Longwa’s Last Headhunters: Meeting the Konyak Tribe, India

Longwa’s Last Headhunters: Meeting the Konyak Tribe, India

is a small, remote village situated on the India-Myanmar
border. Here, living between the two countries, the Konyak tribe
has a captivating past.

The Konyaks were once infamous for their headhunting
expeditions. When marauding nearby villages, the warriors would
decapitate the heads of the opposition and bring them back to a
communal house as a token of bravery, dancing and performing
rituals to celebrate their victory.

Tattoos are another defining feature of the tribe’s warriors;
body art generally covers the face, hands, chests, arms and calves,
reflecting a man’s experience in battle. It was a tradition
typically reserved for the king’s house, as only the village queen
could create a tattoo.

In the mid-1900s the Konyak people were converted to
Christianity by missionaries, and since then the tattooing and
headhunting traditions have gradually faded. Today, the people of
Longwa live a peaceful life. The men you see in this album are in
fact Longwa’s last tattooed headhunters.

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