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 twenty. The Land and the People
caption: the Impoi morungs
medium: books
location: Impoi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (147) Although I lived at Laisong, most of my staff and friends came from the Asalu group. This was dwindling fast, but was the best and kindest community in the Barail.
text: First there was Namkia's Impoi, up the hill. It perched on a ridge with a wild background of peaks behind it a grandly theatrical setting. The Chiku ravine, a black and eerie cleft, cut so closely under the village that you could almost toss a stone down into the gulf. A multitude of water-demons and beasts of the night could have laired in the cold Chiku. On the other side, foothills and hazy plains were spread away like a blurred green carpet, and sometimes far to the north, above the dun dust-cloud covering the Assam Valley, one saw the snow-peaks of the Himalayas. Impoi was cool. Day in, day out, a wind came down from the hill and kept the thatch of Namkia's morung rustling. It wasn't a big building, as morungs go, for Impoi hadn't the manpower for major works, but it was a 'kamarum-ki,' a house put up at a feast of social merit, and conferred a definite status on Namkia. 'Kamarum-ki' was a house of the lower grade. 'Hekwi-ki' was the upper, to which Namkia, having done the first, could go on, but the building ceremonies cost a thousand rupees and nobody was rich enough to perform them now. Since the last specimen fell down some years previously there wasn't a single 'hekwi-ki' in North Cachar - even the ceremonies were being forgotten.
text: The other Impoi morung lay down the street. Beyond it, the track crossed the stone sill of the old walls - the steep and (148) narrow gate, its once-precipitous steps now a rain-worn gully, lay in the high grass above the path - and zigzagged down through giant bamboo to the bridle-track. A mile and a half away along this and several hundred feet below Impoi's level was Asalu.