The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript - Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, Naga diary three

caption: significance of head hunters decorations
medium: diaries
location: Noko (Nokhu) Panso
date: 7.12.1936
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 28.11.1936-11.2.1937
note: translated from german by Dr Ruth Barnes
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: (42) We heard some interesting explanations from Nokhu concerning the significance of the individual decorations of the warriors. The boars' tusks which are worn by all head-hunters in this region represent the crescent of the moon. In its light the head-hunter must know how to creep up to the enemy's village. The cowries which are sewn onto the lengta in star shape represent the stars which also shine on his war expedition. The brass discs which also appear on the lengta of some warriors are a symbol of the sun which also shines to many a battle. At the dance in Panso I had seen one man who was wearing an entire laya on his lengta as well as several with very tiny layas as I know them from the Konyak. The usual brass discs however have a diameter of not much more than 10cm. and a convex shape in the centre, similar to a gong. At dances everyone can wear this decoration but in everyday life only those who have brought home a head.