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: dancing and massive rituals of head-taking described
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The men of each morung dance for a while on the great place outside the chief's house, and then they go to their own men's house, where women wait with bamboos full of water and the young warriors start to wash away the "blood" of their enemies. The older men bind the baskets with the heads to the great log drum, and soon the new warriors begin beating on the huge wooden trunk with such enthusiasm that the mighty rhythm, announcing the bringing in of a head, resounds over the whole country. Each morung takes up the same rhythm, and it is late in the night before the thudding of the drums is silenced. When the boys eventually lay down the drum-sticks and go to dance in their morung, their places are taken by the young women and girls, and the drum resounds just as loudly for they beat as arduously as the warriors. Their naked breasts tremble and sway with the movements, ever repeated, of striking the drum; milk streams from the full breasts of one young mother, but she does not pay much attention to it or to the sleeping infant on her back.