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: rumours and young men from Tamlu come for heads
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Tamlu Pangsha
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: (164) The news of my coming, and more particularly of the spoils I bring with me, has flown like wildfire through the countryside and it is not long before I realize that it is easier to carry a basket of bread untouched through a hungry crowd than a head trophy through the Naga Hills.
text: Hardly have I entered the Konyak country, before I am way-laid by young men from Tamlu begging for a piece of head. Exultantly they carry the small piece I hand them over back to their village, singing of the glorious deeds of war, which incidentally they have never performed.
text: "We are like tigers, terrible to our enemies; like hawks we pursue our enemies. Our enemies tremble and shake. We have captured a head from the village of the enemy . . . ."
text: Here one breaks off the song and asks me in a whisper: "What was the name of the village, Sahib?"
text: "Pangsha!"
text: And then, raising his voice, he sings: ". . . we have captured a head from Pangsha; conquered are the men of Pangsha!"
text: It is no less grotesque when, shortly after, they ask me whether it is the head of a man or a woman, and close on my answer, follows the pompous announcement that they have captured the head of a man from Pangsha.