AUD $110.00

Konyak Naga, "trophy head" Necklace

An old cast brass head hunters’ trophy pendant, suspended from three strands of old red glass beads. These opaque red glass beads are mostly ovoid imitating both ”red coral” and ”job’s tears”, which are worn for protection and for enhancing the life force ie. red symbolizing blood and energy. Red glass serves the same function but is more readily available for trade.

Worn traditionally by Konyak warriors, in Nagaland (in the far NE of India between Assam and Burma) to show how many “heads” the wearer had taken in raids on rival villages. The warriors then come down from Nagaland, to the Indian casters working in the lowlands to commission their status defining trophy neck, to then be worn back into the hills. We sourced this neck in Kathmandu, so it’s then travelled up into Nepal.

The brass has acquired a smoothed mellow dullness, which I think implies some age.

Some sceptics snort, ”none of them are old!”

But despite efforts by the British Raj, even into the thirties, headhunting continued into WW 2. And that’s not so long ago. It’s possible then that a piece that’s only 60 years old could be authentic, I’m not saying it is for sure but it could be possible.
Unrest and seperatist fighting still keep this area out of bounds for tourists, but it’s not the ritualized headhunting of the past. In fact, ironically, I think they’re now Baptist Headhunters.

The beads are fairly old, or a mixture of, (though some are a little shiny) and have been worn for some time, before this their latest threading. The back of the neck does up with a red cotton bound loop and an old silver Indian 1 ”anna” coin with the head of George the Fifth King Emperor (1910 – 1936) on the reverse.

Impressive to wear, they are long enough to just pop over the head, but the button and loop allow you to put it on without ”messing up” your hair. When not being worn it can be hung on a wall for display.

The brass has a nice mellow, worn patina so don’t even think about polishing it!

Age: Mid/Late 20th Century

Size: L 36 cm Brass Head: H 47 mm (including ring) x W 40 mm

Weight: 139 grams