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From head hunters to heart hunters

books Updated: Feb 11, 2009 20:07 IST
Meren Longkumer
Meren Longkumer
Hindustan Times
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Northeast is naturally very peaceful despite the general talk about insurgents and it is essential for people to dispel the misnomer about the region. This is what the Union Tribal Affairs Minister PR Kyndiah said while releasing a book Ancient Naga head hunter's lives and tales by the author Tsuknungpenzu in New Delhi on Wednesday.

He said the diversified region has come a long way since the era of head hunting and hoped that the book would also help crush the myth from "head hunters" to "heart hunters".

About the Book

This is the first book that tells in detail about the works and adventures of ancient head hunters -- their exploits, fightings, love, family life, risks and the fame and honour accorded to them.

Shorter poems in simple rhyming verses retell about the general and self-aspirations of the head hunters and their children for adventure that involved fighting with enemies, code of conduct or unwritten laws that control and govern the head hunter's actions.

The stories are set before American Baptist missionaries set foot on the hills in 1872, when the so called Village Republics (that are still prevalent) were in full glow.

In this volume of the five-book series, the author explores the head hunting times of the Nagas with short stories rich with themes of heroism and romance, revenge and honour, there are enchanting narratives of close-knit and well-organized society.

One of the essential elements of those times were the rich lyrical usage in all important occasions. The art of extempore singing were popular. The author insists on this lyrical form because of the rich literary heritage as it was during those times in the book which gives us a bit of taste like the legends of Beowulf and King Arthur Spencer-like reading.

Women's dignity is one major theme the author touches along all the stories that are full of action, songs with glaring detail.

There were no murders or assassinations during these times. All combats were recorded and made known to everyone concerned. Before the victor killed the victim, he had to ask his name, village and father's name in detail. It was important part of the tradition to declare the name of the victim and to render full news to the victim's relatives. Any unidentified head had no glory. That is why he says the naga culture was unique.

The author's effort has been more importantly to restore almost vanishing Naga folklore and culture, mainly legends and folktales.

Apart from this volume, the other upcoming books by the Mittal Publications to be released are:

1. Naga social life through the ages.
2. Ancient Naga head hunter's lives and tales.
3. Five tragic tales from Naga folklore.
4. Wonders of Naga Legends and folktales.
5. Silent message from the wild.

The author can be reached at