The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Four. Above the Clouds
caption: first encounter with Konyaks from Wakching, including Shankok
medium: books
person: Shankok
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: We were already high up -- certainly well over 4,000 feet -- and there was still no trace of the village, when at last some men emerged from the mist. Halting near a spring, they had waited for us, and passed the time by boiling tea over a small fire. They were Konyaks from Wakching -- Konyaks from the very village where I wanted to work. I looked them over anxiously, wondering whether I could succeed in making friends with them. At first sight they seemed anything but prepossessing. Those horrible mouths! Smiles showed double rows of coal-black teeth, lips red from chewing betel, with pinkish saliva dripping from the corners. But the magnificent orchid one young man wore in the lobe of his ear shone as a bright star in the dark night. Can those who wear flowers in their ears be absolutely charmless? I did know that this young man -- it was Shankok -- would become my best friend. I never found a better either among the Nagas or in Europe.