The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : Return to the Naked Nagas (1939;1976)

caption: Chapter Eighteen. A Skirmish with Head-Hunters
caption: danger passed, but Nagas refuse to carry skulls
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Kalyo Kengyu
location: Pangsha
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The danger has passed, but in face of the long march to Noklak, we find ourselves rather exhausted. There is still a long climb in the full blaze of the midday sun, and the basket on my shoulders, 150) which in the excitement of the flight has been only infuriatingly clumsy, becomes suddenly very heavy. It may appear strange that none of the Nagas will carry my heads, but they argue that such a thing is taboo until they really understand how the heads are to be treated. If they are to be considered as captured heads, then it means that each man who touches them may hold the head-hunting ceremony, but he is subject to the strongest taboos until he returns to his own village. If, however, they do not fall under the category of trophies, and their magical forces are already dissipated in the hands of Pangsha, then it is better that they should not touch them in any way. Until the question is seriously discussed and satisfactorily solved, no one will have anything to do with my heads.