The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: expedition in the Tangkhul area
caption: Chapter two. Solo Flight
caption: tiger reported at Luchai camp
medium: books
location: Luchai
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: From village to village, the stock of photographs growing, we crept on east and north. One camp I have cause to remember.
text: We had passed the salt-wells at Mariem, where Tangkhuls were boiling brine in iron pans to make the flat cakes of earthy salt which the hillmen love, and we came at the end of a hot march to a group of rest-huts in a wood near Luchai. The (20) men's shelters were dotted about in the shade under the trees. Mine, a big, plank-walled building, stood in the middle of them. When night fell and it was time to lock up, I found the crude wooden door had no latch or bar. It wouldn't wedge, and when pushed to, merely swung open again.
text: I leaned out and looked at the camp. The fire was down to ashes. The night was still and calm; not a thing stirring, not a breath of wind; we were even out of earshot of Luchai, the village. It was so quiet, so peaceful, that I could hear the breathing of the men asleep in the nearest huts. I left the door open and slept like a top.
text: Next morning the camp was in a flutter. The porters had heard a tiger among the huts in the night. Round and round it had gone, and they had lain listening. They were frantic to leave; Abung was pop-eyed, and even the compounder uneasy. I alone was sceptical. Tigers aren't common at that altitude in the cold weather; and still less often - unless they are man-eaters, and we should have heard if there was one about - do they venture in among buildings and close to fires. But I asked Mr Duncan about it on the way down, a fortnight later, and learned that Luchai harboured a were-tiger, the son of a were-tiger, and of the most evil reputation possible. I remembered, vividly, that open door.