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: shaving of men's heads before head dance; colour symbolism
medium: books
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The men shave each other's heads, first wetting the hair with a little cold water to soften it for the razor; they leave a small tuft in the middle, and allow the straight hair to fall forward over the forehead. In front of another morung the young people are busy grinding indigo leaves and painting their belts of white, pliable bark with the green juice. It is only when it is cooked that indigo turns blue. The cold crushed leaves produce a green colouring. Strangely enough, there is no word for green in the Konyak language. Red and blue are the only colours used in weaving, and in painting the men's houses, only red, black, and white. You always mention whether a flower is red or blue or yellow, but the greenness of the rest of Nature is taken for granted, and there is no word to describe it. The Naga would never think it necessary to mention that he went through the "green" forest.