The Konyak are a Naga people, and are recognized among other Naga by their tattoos, which they have all over their face and hands; facial tattoos were earned for taking an enemy’s head. They are called the land of Angh’s. They have the largest population among the Nagas.
The remote village of Longwa, with Myanmar’s dense forests on one side and India’s rich agricultural lands on the other, is home to the fierce Konyak Naga tribe. The largest of 16 tribes living in the remote northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, the Konyaks were warriors with brutal pasts, using inter-village fights to accede land and ascertain power. As such, Konyak villages are situated on ridge tops, so they can easily monitor and identify an enemy attack
Known as head hunters of North East India. In the recent past, they were known as war loving and often attacked nearby villages of other tribes taking the heads of opposing warriors as trophies to hang in the Morong (a communal house). The number of heads indicated the power of a warrior and the tribe and becomes a collective totem. With the exception of these behaviors, the tribal members maintain a very disciplined community life with strict duties and responsibilities for every individual.
From the tribe’s conception centuries ago, until the gruesome practice was banned in 1940s, the Konyaks were fierce headhunters. Killing and severing an enemy’s head was considered a rite of passage for young boys, and success was rewarded with a prestigious facial tattoo. With the last headhunting case in Nagaland reported in 1969, older tribesmen like Pangshong (pictured) belong to the last generation with these striking facial tattoos. (Neelima Vallangi)
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