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: Chingjaroi camp; three settlements at Chingjaroi; headmen
medium: books
location: Chingjaroi Khulen Chingjaroi Khunao
date: 17.2.1939-22.2.1939
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Climbing round and over the shoulder of a great hill, we came, through fields and woodland, to Chingjaroi.
text: It was an odd village. The site had once been occupied by a Tangkhul settlement, but this had been wiped out by raiding Kukis. Gradually, to the empty place, came emigrants from the surrounding tribes; a handful of Tangkhuls here, some quasi-Angamis there; and their descendants, marrying, had fused the two into a unique community. They had their own village dialect, and the women spoke nothing else. The men, more travelled, were bi-lingual, speaking Tangkhul or Angami as well, and sometimes a little Manipuri, the lingua franca. There were three settlements in the group. The main one, Chingjaroi Khulen, had a hundred and fifty houses and ran in (21) steps and terraces down a southward slope. Behind it, at the back of the hill, the ground fell sheer; and from the fringing wood one looked far down on rice-fields and little black blots of cattle nibbling among the stubble. High on the top of the ridge, the village dropping below it in a dark fan, stood the headman's house. Great wooden barge-boards, prolonged into horns, edged the front gable; one saw them sharp and black and curved against the turbulent spring sky. But dominant as the house was, it did not stand on the old traditional site of his ancestors, the place reserved for the founder's line. Had he occupied that, and taken on himself the full burden of ritual headmanship, he would have been bound by taboos of every kind, on washing, food, work, on every last part of his daily life; and he was young and liked his creature comforts. He ruled, therefore, as a secular headman, an unconsecrated king, and, perched on another house-site with his gentle wife and fat, golden baby, ate, did and lived as he liked. An offshoot village, Chingjaroi Khunao, was two miles away down a pine-covered ridge; and below that again was a small Christian settlement.