Breaking Myths about Nagaland’s Tribes

By: Staff Writer, 24 Sep, 2018

Headhunting tribes, facial tattoos, and necklaces made of skulls can conjure up perceptions of a ferocious people. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Nagaland’s tribes may be known for their headhunting days, but they’re very friendly folk. Hoshner Reporter and Ambika Vishwanath of The reDiscovery Project dispel the myths and tell you what to expect when you meet the locals in Nagaland. 


Be respectful
The headhunting ways of the Konyak (and other) tribes have often been sensationalised in the media. Don’t go with the impression that they are still headhunters – they stopped about two or three decades ago. They’re happy to answer questions and explain their culture and traditions. Make sure you’re sensitive and not condescending. 

Understand the culture
Headhunting wasn’t a bloodthirsty activity. The Konyaks believe that if a head was brought back, you could harness the soul’s energy. For a young warrior, it was also a way to prove your worth to the tribe. Another interesting facet of local culture is gender equality. Men and women tend to have equal rights, and gender-based divisions of labour aren’t common.

Be open-minded
It’s not unsurprising to find doorways and homes in Naga villages decorated with the skulls of hornbills or mithun, a large bovine animal found in these hills. This can be disconcerting for urban folk, but it’s an important part of the tribe’s culture so try to leave your judgement at home. 

Hoshner and Ambika are leading an eight-day trip around Nagaland this November. Book your spot now

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