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A conical red warrior's headdress

Northeast India, Nagaland

Circa 1950

Woven rattan, yellow orchard fiber, horse hair, wood, a wild boar tusk attached on each side


Private Belgian collection


The conical warrior's headdress is decorated with two wild-boar canine teeth and horse hair. The Naga were known for their practice of headhunting. The taking of a head was a symbol of courage and prestige, it included ritual violence, cosmological balance and the display of manhood. It was also meant as a way of securing the services of the victim as a slave in the afterlife and bringing fertility to the community. The skull of the enemy was preserved as a trophy and displayed on the walls and in doorways. The Indian government put a ban on headhunting in 1960. The Naga people are a conglomeration of several tribes inhabiting the northeastern part of India and northwestern Burma.

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