DAILY PHOTO: Konyak Warriors of Hungpoi

The Chief; Taken on April 27, 2017 at the Hungpoi Village in Nagaland, India


Nagaland is a fascinating place. Back in the days before colonialism and proselytizing missionaries, the tribes practiced headhunting. The Chief’s wife would tattoo the face of any warrior who returned from battle with the head of a fallen enemy. Hence, you see the blue tint to these men’s faces. Hungpoi, which is a short drive from Mon, has one of the highest concentrations of those who lived during this time, but they are a disappearing breed.


I was fascinated to discover how many features of their tribal experience echoed what one reads about in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart.” That book is considered to be one of the quintessential novels of the African experience, but it seems that these Asian tribes shared many features. Their hyper-masculine societies morphed as Christian missionaries came in, backed by the might of colonial powers, and converted the population. Internecine killing–accidental or purposeful–was punished by a seven-year period of exile. Shaming was used as punishment much more than is possible in our–to use Desmond Morris’s term– super-tribes.


Some of these elder warriors wear necklaces showing the number of heads that they collected in warfare. This is in contrast with other elements of ornamentation which, according to one of these men, were more about attracting a mate.





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