Naga Tribal Prestige "Headhunter's" Necklace, A
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- Nagaland in Northeast India and Burma is a state in which different Naga tribal groups inhabit and govern. Throughout the 19th and into the early 20th centuries, the Naga gained notoriety for being active "Headhunters".
- Headhunting was a cultural practice among Naga men to gain respect, power and honor as well as local fame. Headhunting carried several meanings among the Naga. It was viewed as an achievement that determines the status of a man in their society. For the Naga, a man must have taken at least one enemy’s head in his lifetime. The man who has more enemies’ heads taken has a higher status in the society and is well honored. It was also believed that bringing enemy heads back to the village was a sign of good luck for a bountiful harvest, prosperity for the community, and had a religious symbolism as well. It was believed that enemies’ heads could appease the wrath of malevolent spirits and remove any misfortune from the village.
- Only a successful headhunter was allowed to tattoo his face and body, and as a demonstration of his prowess and skill, he could wear a brass head on a necklace for each head that he had seized.
- After a successful head hunt on an enemy tribal group, a Naga warrior who possessed enough animals would have organized a feast for his fellow villagers. The Host acquired merit within the community, which was demonstrated by the horns of the slaughtered buffaloes and that were attached to his house walls.
- This belief has not ended within Naga culture, but Christian missionaries and British colonialists convinced or forced the Nagas to give up the practice of taking human heads. Today, these powerful totems have been substituted by wooden and cast brass heads, but it is reported that the strength of the history of the ritual still thrives in the communities.
- Bead Approx. 7mm x 10mm
- Length Approx. 37"
- Chinese hand-wound glass beads made to resemble coral and amber, strung on a cotton cord with added "Teeth" or "Tusk" pendants made from local cowbone. Used by Naga people as Heirloom and High Prestige Jewelry.