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 six. Introduction to the Zemi
caption: Zemi in Haflong Bazaar; opium; Barail Zemi
medium: books
person: Gumtuing/ of NengloMasang/ of Kepelo
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (50) The few Zemi who hung round the bazaar were shabbier, even, than anything on the line - dirty, draggled, huddled up in whole ragbags of cast-off European clothing, and opium-eaters for the most part. The real Zemi were those in the Barail, and it was decided that I should go out there with the S.D.O. as soon as it could be arranged. The start was delayed for a day or two by rain, and in the interval two Zemi from the Barail came in and gave me a new idea of what I was to meet. One was Gumtuing of Nenglo; the other Masang of Kepelo.
text: Gumtuing walked round the corner of the bungalow one morning with a bottle of rice-beer in one hand and a fowl in the other, his headman's scarlet blanket slung round him and a red hibiscus in his ear. From head to heel, from kilt to haircut, he was of the very Barak. If these were the Nagas I was to work among, I was in clover !
text: Masang appeared a day or two later. He too was swathed in a scarlet blanket. He had been made a wet-rice demonstrator in the hope of winning him to the Government side. Where Gumtuing was tall, Masang was short and deep-chested. His thick black hair was cut in a page-boy bob. His little sharp eyes were never still. They flickered ceaselessly, alert and wary; he missed nothing. In front of strangers he wore a silly grin and clowned continually. It was a clever disguise. He was a cunning devil, was Masang, as clever a ruffian as they come - and yet I never quite made him out, right to the very end. There was something in him that was not wholly the villain.