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: head-hunting dance in Wakching
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: (168) Excitement stirs in the procession as we climb the stone steps. There are large crowds on the resting-place before the village where the warriors have collected, they have put on their dance-hats and the old men wear the head-hunting ornaments of their youth; once more they can be proud of them, for has not the white Sahib kept his word and brought a head to Wakching?
text: So great is the throng crowding the place, and so loud the whirring of voices, that I almost miss a most important ceremony. The head trophies have been laid down on a particular spot, and the eldest men of each clan solemnly smash a raw egg over the head. The egg is supposed, by sympathetic magic, to blind the relatives of the dead and render them innocuous. Then the clan elders sprinkle a little rice-beer on the heads, murmuring: "May your mother, may your father, may your elder and younger brothers, may they all come and drink our rice-beer, eat our rice; may they all come and eat our meat. May they all come!" Chinyang translates these hardly distinguishable words and adds his explanation: "When we captured heads in my youth, we poured rice-beer into the mouth; today, we have only pieces of bone, so we must pour the rice-beer over them."