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: Haimendorf joins in dance to celebrate head-hunting
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Longkhai
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: "Friend, you must dance too," he urges me. "You have brought us the head. We are singing of the defeat of your enemies. We all want you to dance with us!" It is quite a natural thought, for I am considered the real head-hunter, and if I refuse to dance I will shake the people's confidence in me, the confidence I need so much. Already an old woman is plucking at my sleeve and showing me with gestures that I should join the dance.
text: In the hall of the chief's house I remember having seen a great dao, tufted with red and black goat's hair. I fetch it from the wall, for if I am to dance, I must swing the weapon due to my assumed rank as head-hunter, and so armed I slip into the rank of the (177) dancers. Not one of the boys shows that there is anything unusual about this new performer, and they continue the dance without a pause. Only through the crowd of women passes an astonished murmur.