The British had banned head hunting during the days of the Raj and ordered that all trophies \u2013 such as skulls of enemy tribes \u2013 be destroyed.\nMost tribes complied. But a few Naga tribes stashed their spoils away in secret spots.\nSkulls of men captured in tribal wars were buried temporarily and were later recovered.\nThese are on display in the village community hall today \u2013 images of which are displayed below:\n\n\n\n\n\nThese may evoke a spectrum of reactions from people from other worlds \u2013 but it is important to remember the original purpose while viewing these as part of the history of a culture \u2013 that these were seen as rewards for the bravery & courage and were badges of triumph of good over evil (self = good, other = evil, as it is in every world).\nThe injury mark that was probably caused by a \u2018dho\u2019\n\n\n\n\nSkull of a dwarf warrior (right) alongside the skull of an elephant and a bird\n\nKohima museum exhibit (from Wikipedia)\n\nNotwithstanding the laws of the British rulers, this practice continued to prevail. Later efforts of Christian missionaries resulted in conversions and brought a gradual end to the ethnic culture and this practice was given up not through the power of the ruling sword but through changes in belief. Further modernisation in present day India presented interaction with the outside world. This brought opportunities that were infinitely broader than those available to their ancestors whose lives were limited to a geography of a few hundred kilometers resulting in inter-tribal fights for territory and other resources. And so the head hunting practice completely died out in the 20th century.\n***\nJust as I have no authority to judge a lion killing a deer, I have no authority or moral right to judge the rules that had evolved within a society that lived and thrived for centuries. I am an outsider whose comprehension of the inner workings \u2013 the logic, the social dynamics, the beliefs and the emotions \u2013 of that system will never be 100% complete.\nAs I mull over these peeps into lives that I will never live, I have to remind myself that curiosity and comprehension are the only valid lenses through which my mind should look at these traditions. No moral judgements and no prescription should be allowed to color my vision.\nThe Nagas who practiced these traditions a century ago\u00a0 lived by a set of rules that were complete and internally consistent. And I am just a passer by in space and time \u2013 intrigued and in awe of a world beyond that is orthogonally different from the 2 or 3\u00a0 worlds that I am used to.\nMy other articles on Arunachal Pradesh & Nagaland are linked below\nFierce Nocte Headhunters\nBack to the Future \u2013 Tribal Life in Arunachal Pradesh\nThe Tribal Hornbill Festival, Nagaland\njm\nDecember 2011\nThe post Head Hunting Trophies appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.