The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Twenty-one. Head-Hunting Rites
caption: head-hunter's welcome in Wanching
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wanching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: Gradually the bold head-hunters catch up with us, and soon I find myself climbing through high jungle grass at the head of a long procession. Again and again shrill shouts ring out, seeming rather to increase than die down as we climb the innumerable stone steps up to the rest-house of Wanching. Here, we find the smaller boys of Wanching are awaiting their brothers and friends with feather hats and shields. Soon the young heroes are dressed and run with small, dancing steps into the village, where the women and children are gathered together, awaiting tensely the arrival of the procession. The warriors stop under a large tree and form a circle, uttering hoarse cries that swell to a mighty song, full of vigour and strength in its long drawn out notes. An old and completely naked man begins a wild dance. Neither advancing nor retreating, he jumps frantically from left to right, shouting shrilly and swinging his dao with movements that appear to challenge a crowd of enemies to fight for life or death.