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: description of Laisong
medium: books
location: Laisong
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Laisong was a village of perhaps eighty houses. It stood on a spur which sloped from the main range. In the middle of the rocky street there was a widening into an open space - not a square, it was too irregular for that, but a space where stood two huge wooden water-troughs, like dugout canoes, each fed by a bamboo pipeline from springs on the hill behind, the sacred jumping-stone, the 'hazoa', beside which heads taken in war were buried, and the long mound of earth where the jumpers landed. The two morungs stood one at each entrance to this space, as though guarding it, and from the head of it one looked away to the east past cliffs and over (53) vast, airy gulfs to a valley flanked by tremendous fells. At the head of the valley was a pass, a deep U scooped in the mountains, and framed in the gap was a far-distant, rock-ribbed giant of a peak, a monstrous wall blued and made soft by atmosphere.
text: Beyond the lower morungs the street dropped steeply, the houses ended, and the path forked. One branch fell away through a stone-walled gateway and disappeared down the cliff; the other climbed up the round hummock which ended the spur. Here, frail and contemptible among all those immense summits and sweeping, blue-shadowed chasms, was the little thatched camp which had been built for us. The place was an eyrie, a castle rock. On the south and east its sides fell sheer in grassy cliffs; on the north was a wooded ravine; and the Jenam itself, a streak of water among rocks, wound round the foot of the hill eight hundred feet below the barren top. Enormous hills, cragged, tree-sprinkled, yellow with sunbleached grass and capped with black forest, loomed over it on three sides and from across the valley; but to the south it overlooked an open green basin, through which the Jenam wound, a shimmer of light between bamboos and reed-beds, before it disappeared again into a maze of spurs.