The Konyaks


  • The Konyaks, an isolated ethnic group defined culturally by their headhunting practice and elaborate facial tattoos, reside in the forest interiors of Nagaland.
  • When they used to attack the villages of rival tribes, it was tradition to rip off their victims’ heads.
  • Those who returned home with the heads would be revered as warriors.
  • It was believed that human heads exuded a mystical force that would bring prosperity and benefit local crops.

Facts for Prelims:

  • When it was done, it was done using a handcrafted comb. Needles made from rattan palm spikes were bound together using plant fibres to make these tattooing combs.
  • The body of a Konyak would become a human canvas, across which intricate motifs were laboriously hand-tapped, using an ink made from the resin of a Toona ciliata tree (commonly known as red cedar).

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