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Christa Neuenhofer | profile | all galleries >> Nagaland, India, Home of Naga Headhunters tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Nagaland, India, Home of Naga Headhunters

Nagaland, one of the "Seven Sisters" in Northeast India (cf. my gallery about Arunachal Pradesh) is a state in which different Naga tribes live. Like their "brothers", the Wanchos in Arunachal, they are famous, because only some 50-60 years ago they were still headhunters. But there are also reports about rather recent head hunts.
Only a successful headhunter was allowed to tattoo his face and body, and as a demonstration he could wear a brass head on a necklace for each head that he had seized (cf. pictures 1 and 2).
From time to time, esp. after a successful head hunt, a Naga who possessed enough animals organized a feast for his villagers. By doing so, he acquired merits which is demonstrated by the horns of the slaughtered buffaloes and mithuns that were (and still are) attached to his house walls (cf. picture 8).
The Nagas needed human skulls, because they believed that only with these skulls they could guarantee the fertility of the fields and the people. This can still be seen on the old town gates of Kohima (cf. pictures 11 and 12). This belief has not ended, but Christian missionaries and British colonialists convinced or forced the Nagas to give up the habit of cutting off human heads. Today these have generally be substituted by wooden heads, but the rituals still persist.

You can find an in-depth coverage of our tour in German with further details and pictures at: http://www.neuenhofer.de/guenter/nagaland/Nagaland.html
Paraphernalia of a head hunter.
Paraphernalia of a head hunter.
Five brass heads for five human heads
Five brass heads for five human heads
Cartridges instead of horns
Cartridges instead of horns
Old Naga lady with tattoos
Old Naga lady with tattoos
Naga lady with typical necklace
Naga lady with typical necklace
Standing in the rain
Standing in the rain
Washday
Washday
Buffalo and Mithun horns on the wall
Buffalo and Mithun horns on the wall
Watching the tourists in Khonoma
Watching the tourists in Khonoma
Dental hygiene in a Naga house
Dental hygiene in a Naga house
Old town gate with headhunters in Kohima
Old town gate with headhunters in Kohima
Headhunter on town gate
Headhunter on town gate
Town gate fom 1976. Headhunter with head
Town gate fom 1976. Headhunter with head