Friday, 23 December 2016

Trupal Pandya | The Last Headhunters

Photo © Trupal Pandya - All Rights Reserved
The Konyaks are found in Myanmar, in a couple of districts of India's Arunachal and Nagaland, India. They are known in Arunachal as Wancho Konyak. In Nagaland, there are sixteen major indigenous tribes with different cultures and traditions. The most fascinating of these tribes are the Konyaks; the largest in number, identifiable by their tattooed faces and a history of fierce headhunting. Headhunting was important place in the Konyaks' tradition and culture.

For the Konyak, killing an enemy and bringing back the head used to be considered a rite​​ of passage, and was rewarded with a tattoo on the face or chest of the warrior. The more tattoos the fiercer (and more respected and feared) was the warrior.

During the 1970's, the Konyaks converted to Christianity and consequently many ​traditional practices and rituals have vanished. What now remains are​ ​a few old men with faded tattoos.These men are idling about certain villages, smoking opium​ and sharing stories about their glorious past.

The Last Headhunters is a series fascinating portraits of the Konyaks by Indian photographer Trupal Pandya.

Trupal has a bachelor’s degree in photography from the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC), and started his photography a few years ago.  He participated in the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2014 and interned with Steve McCurry. His work was published in CNN, Huffington post and National Geographic Magazine and he has been on an assignment with the United Nations to Iraq to photograph the refugee camps.

His portfolio includes pictures of the tribes of Omo Valley in Ethiopia, Huaorani people of the Amazon Rainforest, Headhunters, Brokpas, Aghoris, eunuchs and shepherds in India. He has traveled to countries like Ethiopia, Ecuador, India, Iraq, and Sri Lanka mainly focusing on communities that are standing on the edge of modernization.