Mon district in Nagaland is the home of the Konyak Nagas – the largest tribe among the Nagas. Once this tribe was feared for its warrior lifestyle, which included head-hunting (the Konyak who had the maximum number of skulls was considered most powerful). Christianity was largely embraced by the Konyaks and that has led to a change in their lifestyle.
Earlier, there was constant fighting between the different Naga tribes; however, since they adopted Christianity, the religion has worked as a bonding factor between the various tribes.
Konyaks have hereditary rulers known as ‘Anghs’ and it is possible for some tourists to visit the Angh’s houses at Chui, Mon Tangnyu, Wakching, Jaboka, Sheangha and Chingnyu. Usually, the Angh’s house is the largest and has a display of skulls in front of it. Male Konyaks wear large earrings made of boar horns and a loincloth; they also carry a dao (machete) or a gun. Female Konyaks wear a short piece of cloth wrapped around their waist.
The Konyaks have tattooed faces and bodies, and during festivals, their colorful shawls and feathered headgear lends an added rustic charm to these fearsome warriors. The Konyaks also believe that they descended from Noah (this is seen as the reason for their Biblical names – Mosa, Aron, etc.
Chui Village is a prominent village near Mon. The Angh’s house has a display of skulls of people that were killed by him and his ancestors. The male to female ratio in Chui is rather sad as there are 898 females for every 1000 males, while the literacy rate stands at a half dismal 56.6%. Near to Chui lies Longwa, one of the biggest villages in the region and one that has the distinction of being half in India and half in Myanmar.
Though the Konyaks are changing their ways, one can still see their history in their craftwork, like carvings, daos, head brushes, headgear, necklaces, etc. Aoleang Monyu, celebrated in the first week of April each year, is a Konyak festival worth witnessing.