The Fading Heritage Of The Uncanny And Aggressive Konyak Tribe, Nagaland

Konyak Tribe

Once famous for the act of aggression and inhumanity such as headhunting and the facial tattoos, the Konyak tribe, resides in the North Eastern India. Their facial specs depict a unique cultural practice which sets them apart from other cultures recognizing an entire new one. But the unfortunately this culture of tattooing is gradually fading away.

Konyaks hunted skulls believing that it would fetch fertility in the fields along with the people. They believed that human skulls had supernatural powers and by getting it, they would gain some of its power. They also notoriously cut off the skulls of humans from the neck as according to their customs it showed bravery and pride.

Anyone who stepped into the village with a skull was praised as a hero and was given a ceremonial reception by the residents. The skull was hung on the sacred tree at the entrance of the village and night time rituals were followed by the fire.

Warriors were tattooed on their chest as a mark of honor. The ones who brought the heads of hostile enemies received the privilege of getting their face tattooed and wearing a bronze medal. The facial tattoos vary region wise. These are found to be linked to the dialects spoken by the sub tribes which also vary from place to place. Many sub tribes have back tattoos, leg tattoos, but not all.

Headhunting was practiced by them for the last 60-70 years and they strongly condemned Christianity and modernization because headhunting was an essential culture of their life.

Headhunting was then banned in 1935 by the British colonialism in India. Christianity was first tried to be instilled in the minds of the people by setting up missionary schools at the end of the 19th century. Today almost 98% of the total tribes are converted to Christianity.

Today hardly anyone thinks of their old customary ritual of headhunting to kill time. To kill time they now drink black coffee and rum. The younger generation deeply practices Christianity and smokes opium.

The administration of the village is a deeply thought one. Every village is under one king. The appointment of the king is on the basis of the collection of the biggest and most skulls. For large kingdoms the king can have 3-6 sub kings who are in charge of different parts of a village. The sign of recognition of kings is the blue beads on their legs. The more it is in numbers, the more powerful the king is and the more respected he is.

Such a rare piece of culture is hardly found nowadays and the sole survivors of this are gradually fading away with their heritage. Proper attention is required.

Photos Courtesy: Victor Stadnichenko , Travel Blogger and Photographer

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Abhirup is a science and tech freak. His passion is blogging on different science and technology topics. In his spare time, he plays computer games and plays piano.
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