India | Nagaland

Miniature Trophy Mask

The hunters belonging to the tribes in Nagaland wear a pendant representing the head of a dead person. It is a common belief among the tribal people that this head will bless the hunter with good health, prosperity and success in hunting.

The tribal faith says that a human soul is made up of ‘yaha’ (animated characteristics) and ‘mio’ (spiritual characteristics). Following the death of a person, the ‘mio’ continues to dwell in the village. This ‘mio,’ which resides in the head of the dead person, blesses the people with prosperity and fertility. This belief led to the preservation of the head, in the olden days. Even the warriors used to bring the head of the enemy as a trophy, under the same belief.

These practices are no longer followed. Instead, a miniature mask representing the head is worn by a hunter. These masks are a prized possession, handed down from generation to generation.

Updated on 7th June, 2005


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