The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Chapter Twelve. Towards Unknown Country
caption: head-hunting, human sacrifice and magical virtue of heads
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: It is difficult to distinguish clearly between head-hunting and human sacrifice, for the main purpose of taking a head is not the glory of war, but the gain of the magical forces inherent in the skull. Why, therefore, should these forces not be acquired in a less dangerous way than by raiding? then there is always the risk of losing your own head, or so the Konyak argues. And to lose your head on a raid is a disgraceful death for the Naga. No honour is accorded slain heroes, and their whole families suffer from the disgrace, for custom compels them to abandon their houses and throw away their property and ornaments.