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: further processions and dancing
medium: books
person: ShankokYonglong/ of WakchingThepong morung/ Wakching
ethnicgroup: Konyak
location: Wakching
person: Furer-Haimendorf
date: 6.1936-6.1937
text: The sun stands high in the sky, when the men of the Thepong form a procession and walk solemnly to the former house of the chief. This house has long fallen into decay, for the Ang Chinkak, the feckless descendant of a more powerful father, is without any influence and lives in another house; but this is where the ceremonies at the bringing in of the head used to be held, and the men of Wakching will always consider this the ceremonial place. Yesterday they have cleared it of all the overgrowing jungle, and today its prestige is once more established.
text: Shankok, the so-called captor of the head, walks in front of the procession of young warriors, carrying fully-leaved bamboos. It is as though a whole grove is moving. Behind come the old men and the eldest man of Shankok's clan carrying the head.
text: A small monolith stands on the ceremonial place; the young warriors quickly and securely bind their bamboos to this stone, and the head is laid in the centre, while Yonglong, a descendant of the village-founder, but otherwise an inconspicuous man, begins the ritual of the ceremony. According to ancient custom, the tongue and ears should be cut from the head and buried under the stone. There are neither tongue nor ears on the heads I have brought to Wakching, but Yonglong generously covers over this deficiency, and continues the ritual with the requisites in hand. Once more the soul of the dead man is bidden to call the souls of all his relations so that they too may fall victims to the Wakching men. Now Yonglong is killing a small chicken and sprinkling the head and the stone with its blood. The intestines show whether the omens are favourable to the future of the Thepong morung. The young people end the ceremony with a slow round dance, as the procession of another morung arrives, and Yonglong must once more repeat his part of the ceremony.