Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nagaland Odyssey Pt. 3: Konyak Country

A heady cultural mix: Human skull from a head taken by the former chief of  Shengha Chingyu, a Konyak Naga village in northern Nagaland, in front of a recently constructed Baptist church. The poor owner of the skull probably lost it some time in the middle of the twentieth century.

Hi. So, this is the final installment covering my trip through Nagaland. Up until this point, my travels in the state had been interesting and memorable, and the time had certainly not been wasted. That being said, I think that I can truthfully say that my time spent in Mon District, in northern Nagaland, ranks right up there with the craziest adventures I've ever had. Of course, as with most real adventures, there was plenty of bad with the good. My time with the Konyaks was frequently characterized by rather gruesome sights and morbidly humorous incidents. The full cultural blast of staying in a Konyak Naga village as the guest of its chief (or, Angh) certainly didn't leave me with an improved vision of human nature, though fortunately I didn't have an overly positive one to begin with. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nagaland Odyssey Pt. 2: Ao Country

Figurehead at the front of an old (19th century) Ao Naga log drum in the village of Ungma, the Ao tribe's largest settlement. Log drums are whole trees that have been cut down and then hollowed out. They served a variety of functions, including inter-village communication, warning a village in case of attack, and ceremonial purposes. Apparently, back in the day, when a warrior would take heads he would first ceremonially drape them on the village's log drum, before hanging them on the villages special head-hanging tree. Log drums were mostly used by the more northerly Naga tribes, such as the Ao's and the Konyaks. Tribes such as the Anagami's and the Tangkuls didn't have them. However, various adjacent non-Naga cultures in Arunachal Pradesh, Burma, and South-central China did. The styles of log drums from tribe to tribe vary considerably.