Longwa, The village of Head Hunters : In Pictures

I dared (nothing daring though) a Solo trip to the village of Head Hunters. Yes, I made it to Longwa alone and had no single encounter where I would have felt unsafe in any manner on the entire route.

Located only 50 km from the town of Mon, Longwa is fairly accessible by sharing taxis (from Mon Town) who charge around Rs.200 per seat in a Sumo. I hitch-hiked to the village because I couldn’t get a seat in the taxi as it was full. One can make a day trip or plan to stay in Longwa. There are plenty of Homestays and a Traveller’s Inn (hostel) which is right in the form of Angh’s Palace.

What makes Longwa special?

Longwa is a village of Mon, the domain of Konyak Tribe. It is found on the North of Assam, South of Tuensang District, East of  Burma, Myanmar and West of Mokokchung. First, I visited the Chief Angh’s (King’s) Residence which lies half in India and half in Burma. The family eats in India and sleeps in Burma. Chief is the king of Konyak tribe in India and Burma.

Then, I met a headhunter who is 85 years old from Longsa Village. He has hunted 4 heads in his life. After a conversation about his life and other things, I dared to ask him, ‘why you used to hunt human head?’. He smiled and said, ‘mostly marriage conflicts between Tribes, village, or individuals’. He added, other than marriage issues, it was land related issue as well. And to win over a battle, they used to hunt the head of the person and hang it outside their house.

The head hunter of Longwa
The 85-year-old Head Hunter, I had a long conversation with him.

My experience of meeting headhunters wasn’t just about clicking “money worthy portraits” but to have meaningful conversations. I literally chose to sit and have conversations with one of the headhunters. Though I had to pay him a few hundred (they charge because they know they are in demand and people earn through their photographs, so, asking money for the worth isn’t wrong at all). He got emotional when I was leaving, and said in his language, “You are very kind, please come back for Aoling Festival and meet me.”  How heartwarming!

[I had a Konyak friend to translate as the old man didn’t know Hindi or English]

Longwa : in pictures

India - Burma
Longwa Village. The road is the divider between Burma and India. Can you spot the Burmese Flag?
Tattoo of a head hunter
The headhunters used to have facial Tattoos to make them stand out for their bravery.
A head hunter at Longwa,Nagaland
The Brave, and kind to me, one of the Head Hunter. The human head necklace denotes the number of heads hunted.
A head hunter with a little girl in Longwa
Forceful portraits of old aged Head Hunters.
Animal Horns at a traditional Konyak house
Horns of an animal at a head hunter’s house.
A head Hunter posing for the Photographers
Longwa Village is photographers’ paradise, but they all should be sensitive enough and not disturb the old aged way too much.
The smile of a Head Hunter
I crave for these moments to capture, when they smile, laugh and be happy.
Posing for photographers
But the Photographers wanted him to look fierce and make an angry face. Really?
An old Konyak Man
Does this pose makes sense? Asking him to pose is a mistake. Let him be natural. I joined a group a photographer to shoot the head-hunters but I was disappointed by the way they got their perfect shots.
Portrait of a Konyak Man
I didn’t go in front to shoot since I didn’t enjoy making them uncomfortable.
A typical portrait of a Head Hunter at Longwa
Facial tattoos, Deer horns in ears and fierce soul, they had as headhunters.

I was helped by Sange, the founder of Holiday Scout Tour and Travels for this trip. You can plan your trip to Nagaland or any other North Eastern State of India with him. Instagram: @holidayscout

Also, I have made a short documentary on my Solo trip to Longwa Village, watch it here.

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2 comments on “Longwa, The village of Head Hunters : In Pictures”

  1. It’s sad enough that all we do at beautiful historic monuments is take selfies. It’s that same mindless attitude with which makes us click images of people like they are things on display. It’s even worse when photogrpahers mindfully do it.
    Longwa still makes my heart ache, hope some day we will be able to complete this story.

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