Come face to face with the Konyak Headhunters

The Konyak tribes have traditionally had a strong warrior tradition and are most famous for their practice of headhunting which continued until the end of 1960. As a mark of honorarium, a young warrior Konyak would receive a facial tattoo when bringing the head of an enemy to the king. A tattoo on the chest was a mark of high social privilege and only reserved for the very best and bravest warriors.

Konyaks used a traditional basket specifically made to carry and bring back human heads from war. These were decorated with monkey skulls, wild pigs’ horns and occasionally hornbill beaks. It was also common for warriors to wear a necklace with bronze faces indicating the number of heads the warrior had ‘hunted’. It was believed that by taking the head of an enemy as a trophy, the warrior took his enemy’s power and soul. This was a common practice until Christianization put an end to their unique culture and head-hunting tradition.

While the more extreme practices of Konyak culture have come to an end, Longwa Village, a short drive from Mon, is the best place to witness true Konyak tradition where people are still not touched by modern ways.

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