The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book : 'Konyak Nagas' by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, (1969)

caption: head hunting
caption: key to prosperity; epidemic disease
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf/ C.
date: 1969
refnum: with permission from Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York99:1
text: Konyaks were firmly convinced that the capturing of heads was essential for the well-being of a village and that a community which failed over a period of years to bring in a head would suffer a decline in prosperity. The men of Wakching and other villages of administered territory where Pax Britannica had brought raiding to an end often complained that their inability to capture human heads had resulted in a deterioration of health and general well-being. Their observation was probably accurate, for not only had life lost much of its zest, but increased contacts with the people of the plains had facilitated the spread of epidemics. In the days of head-hunting Naga villages had been very isolated, and as there was little traffic, epidemics seldom affected more than a limited area. With the ban on feuding, however, travel between villages became safer, epidemics spread more widely, and the toll of death from smallpox, dysentery, and cholera was much heavier than the losses sustained in the past as the result of sporadic head-hunting raids.