The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter four. Black Magic
caption: visit to Jessami
medium: books
location: Jessami
date: 25.3.1939
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (32) Our next stage on from Kharasom was to a village called Jessami, on the long tongue of Manipur which juts into Naga Hills. The moment the name was mentioned, the men showed an odd unease. One after another they came to me with undefined reasons why we shouldn't go. But from no one - neither Abung, nor Luikai nor Chinaorang, nor the Kharasom headman, who was reluctant to produce porters - could I get a clear statement of what was wrong. At last I said that if they could give me no reason against it, why, go we would; and we went.
text: It proved an elusive place. The road wandered on and on and up and down through dusty, scrubby jungle. At one point a pinewood burned, and we ran the gauntlet through smoke and sparks, jumping smouldering logs. We came to a Kuki village, which held us up for an hour and a half while we ministered to all the ailments in Asia; and not until afternoon did we drop suddenly from the wooded ridge into fields, from fields to a firewood reserve, and through that, by a broad, worn path, to a camp at the Jessami village gate and a settlement which, seen through the gap in the palisade, seemed Eastern Angami.
text: The old headman was ill, but his subordinates met us. The camp was excellent. There were ample supplies; the elders were the soul of courtesy. Only the Tangkhul porters and my servants struck a discordant note. They shied from the rice-beer as though it were brewed from arsenic. They huddled in camp in a wild-eyed bunch, glancing over their shoulders each time a villager passed; they could hardly (33) have looked on the headmen with more terror had the old gentlemen worn horns, hoofs and tail. Had it not been so inexplicable their fear would have been comic.