Kingdom of Headhunters - Mon, Nagaland


Super User
now this is what we call "AWESOME" stuff !!
Thank you Alok Bhai :)

u r doing quite a adventurous tour...
Thank you Sukanta sir..
How is your Goa plannign going on?

If free next week lets meet up in Cuttack or BBSR ..what saying?

Thanks Bro

Awesome, waiting for the next part.
Thanks YS..
Will complete the log on next part...
coming soon..

Amazing, to say the least! Adventure of adventures!
Ha ha

Thanks :)

Great adventure.. hats off :prayer:
Thanks Dada :)


Super User

We woke up really early even sun was not came out .. It was dark and we came out of the palace to witness the sunrise ..It was drizzling a bit..

An area steeped in history, most famously, Konyaks are known to nurture a strong collection of highly skilled wood craftsmen. Many of these excellent craftsmen were responsible for constructing magnificent wooden sculptures especially human and animal figurines. Craftsmen within the Konyak region are legendary, with their craft being passed down through the generations for over a century. Wood carvings were the part of Konyak life since the head hunting days. They are in fact, the best wood-carvers among the Nagas and many skilled craftsmen in villages take up wood carving as a leisure pursuit. Artisans by birth, the wood carving skills of the Konyaks could be spotted easily after seeing their traditional ornaments and other structures in the village particularly at the Chief''s palace. Every Konyak village demonstrates their own design engraved on a variety of objects. Each log drum, as one can see, has different designs and figures carved on it. The wooden sculpture in Longwa village is believed to be the largest and oldest sculpture in the state. Longwa village, one of the prominent villages in Mon district, is ruled by the chief Angh. The wooden sculpture at Longwa is a magnificent wooden monument measuring 8 feet in height and 12 feet in breadth – believed to be constructed by heavenly angels. Figurines of humans and other creatures are engraved on this monument. Memorial stones are also found in front of the Angh''s palace. History records that good and friendly relationships existed between Longwa and Ahom Kings. Longwa village, the biggest village in the district lies on International Border of India and Myanmar (Burma). The border literally divides the Angh''s house in 2. At the Angh''s residence, one can find beautifully carved figures at the main pillar. Other than ornamental bits and pieces, a variety of utility items like the Konyak seats, beds, ladder etc., are much in demand outside the state. However, despite the ban on export of artifacts or antiques imposed by the community, many unscrupulous traders clandestinely continue to trade in it. The Konyaks are not only accomplished craftsmen, bead makers and weavers, but also professionals in gun and gunpowder making. Among the Nagas, the Konyaks have the richest and most colourful traditional attire. The Konyak traditional attire employs a lot of beads. The traditional attire can include elements such as beads, shells, coins etc., which stand out to denote the clan and status of a person. The use of molded brass such as human head, fish, and spiral designs forms an important piece in the Konyak traditional attire. Till this day, one can notice the youth wearing bits of traditional adornments and accessories with a dominance of red, necklaces of beads and pendants of head-hunting trophies in brass. These brass handicraft items are globally acknowledged for their durability and ability to catch the attention of onlookers. Molded figurines depicting headhunter warrior, spear heads etc., are much in demand, but regretfully, there are not many who practice this art.

The international border line exactly on the fire place

evidences of the Konyak warriors
















typical konyaki house

the so called palace


graves of older royal family



we visited just a few days after the inauguration :)


international border line crosses on the lane

king's children





Nagaland, one of the « Seven Sisters » of Northeast India, is a Permit Protected state bordering Burma where live 20 different Nagas tribes of mixed origin, cultures, and very different physiques and appearances. The Konyaks are one of them.

The Konyaks people traditionally have a strong warrior tradition and are mostly famous because they were still headhunting until the late 1960′s-70′S. This is the reason why their villages are only situated on hilltops, in order to prevent attacks from other tribes.

It’s not difficult to recognize the last living Konyak headhunters. As an honorary mark, a young man would receive a prominent facial tattoo when he managed to take an enemy’s head. It was believed that by taking the head of an enemy as trophy, you would gain some of his power and soul. Those enemies’ heads were then hanged on the sacred ritual tree at the entrance of every villages. This was a common practice until Christianization reached them and turn those violent rituals into dust.

Christian missionaries and British colonialists convinced or forced the Konyaks to Christianity, in order to make them giving up the habit of cutting off human heads, hence conquer them easily. The Konyak tribe resisted Christianization and modernization for longer than most other Nagas tribes because wars and headhunting were an essential part of their ritual life in the past. Despite that, Christians reached them and headhunting was no longer practiced.

The Konyaks hunted human skulls because they believed only these could guarantee the fertility of their fields and people. This belief has not ended but today the skulls have generally been substituted by wooden heads, and the rituals still persist.

Some rather recent head hunts have been unofficially reported. When meeting the members of this tribe you can sometimes easily feel the violent past in their blood, which makes you realize how not far away from now it actually is.. Still don’t mess with them.

Konyaks people used tattoos to indicate status just as other people might use ornaments or textiles. For example, Konyak Naga girls wore a tattoo on the back of the knee if they were married, as in Western cultures a finger-ring usually makes this statement. The chest tattoo is another typical traditional tattoo, which was a high social privilege and could only be worn by the best and bravest warriors of all, which make the few still alive even more difficult to meet.

Their specific traditional headhunters war hats were made of hunted wild pigs horns, hornbill feathers and wild bear or goat hair. Konyaks used a traditional basket specifically made to carry and bring back human heads from war. It was decorated with monkey skulls, wild pigs horns and sometimes hornbill beaks.

The majestic hornbill is a Nagaland emblem which represents loyalty, because of the female bird staying in the high nest and relying on her male to feed her. In the past, the right to use hornbill feathers had to be earned, feathers were not for sale, and only those that excelled in warfare received the honor to decorate themselves with the feathers. The Nagas tribes recently realized the damages they have done on the specie, so they stopped hunting them and they now protect them instead. It could be already too late thou to avoid total extinction.

The hornbill was unfortunately not the only victim of the Konyaks traditions and way of living. The Konyaks plantation system, as most the Nagas tribes, is the slash-and-burn cultivation. As its name can tell, this type of cultivation destroys the jungle and its entire biotope, forcing big wild animals, such as bears, panthers and tigers which used to live in this area, to totally disappear. The smaller animals, as wild pigs, monkeys and birds, have now to hide even further into the jungle, far from any human contact. The hunters complain about that because it makes them walk way further to get any decent catch. Konyaks use to keep animal skulls from those hunts into their homes to protect the people living inside from the evil spirits from the jungle. The amount of skulls displayed, inside and outside the house, reveals the social status of the owner. The more and bigger skulls, the highest the social status.

Every Konyak village is ruled by one king, who obviously displays the more and biggest skulls. This main king can have from 3 to 6 other sub-kings, according to the village size, in order to maintain his social and war supremacy. Every sub-king is in charge of a different part of the village and reports to the main king. All kings are easily recognizable because of the clear blue beads on their legs. The more blue beads layers they wear, the most powerful and respected they are. In the past, kings used to get bribes from the conquered villages all around, even sometimes 50km away from their own village, beating drums on huge carved dead trees to pass messages from villages to villages.

You should also keep in mind that Konyaks only wear clothes since very recently and used to walk and fight naked. Only a few elderly people still live traditionally naked, and wear clothes only occasionally to avoid shocking the youngest, influenced and attracted by the modern world.

meeting the real headhunters

his wife


trying my hand in shooting.. no animals/birds were killed.. aimed at a fruit ;)




Exclusive picture
meet the future king





Notice i am sitting on the border line



Super User

We were served the same food which was prepared last night as breakfast..without getting any other choice I had a little from everything..

While having breakfast I casually asked the king where are the remaining skulls.. His funny reply was you guys are sitting on them also you spent last night with them all around :eek: In past there were so many human skulls for display but now they have dumped them only animals skulls are there for display..

King has so many daughters and the entire region cheered when the first son of him was born and he is the future king.. I got this news from North East newspapers.. but never got any picture of him.. so here I present the Exclusive picture of him..

With a heavy heart it was time to bid good bye.. by that time the king has become a very good friend. Hope the friendship will remain forever.. It was uneventful journey except a lunch break in Mon.. and some shopping of fresh vegetables on the way.. we reached Moranhat …

These are all burmese people


burmese school

Longwa village bye bye


how can my trip be completed without interacting with the super sweet kids :)







wanna try ??





and we are in Assam

B'day girl


On this trip I was lucky to meet several old warriors. It won’t be more than a decade or two before there is not a single one left, so it was an honor and a privilege to meet some of them.

~~ The End ~~