Fascinating photographs reveal the last of a once fearsome headhunter tribe that enjoyed a murderous apogee in which cutting off the head of an enemy warrior was not only accepted, but treated as an initiation rite.
Now, as the last remaining members of the Konyak tribe approach their old age, their unique culture has been captured in a series of impressive images.
The journey is uniquely narrated through the lens of a woman from Konyak, the great-granddaughter of the prominent Ahon tattoo hunter, who takes the viewer to the heart of Nagaland, a mountainous region in northeastern India.
The photos vividly capture the process of beautifying the body of the tribe, a practice in which members of the tribe adorn their bodies with distinctive facial and body tattoos.
In Nagaland, the body is treated as a canvas, with inscriptions marked on the skin to represent rites of passage or, for some, to mark each murder they made.
Disappearing: A man from the Konyak tribe, who can be found in northeastern India, has imposing facial and body tattoos that are granted during important rites of passage and were traditionally granted when the head of an enemy warrior was cut off.
Imposing: This man, now in his 70s, carries a spear that was once used by members of the tribe to hunt enemy warriors, where their heads were beheaded and returned to the tribe. This was a practice that was not only accepted, but treated as an initiation rite
As we approach old age: as most of the last remaining members of the Konyak tribe are over 70 years old, their unique culture is rapidly disappearing. These men stand and proudly display their inked bodies as badges of honor
This woman from the Konyak tribe poses in front of a wall adorned with buffalo skulls. She is decorated with chains of traditional necklaces. Despite its fierce reputation and intimidating looks, the latest generation of Konyaks is now over 70 years old and is warm and welcoming to visitors.
The unique headdress and arm of this Konyak man have been made with the bones and horns of the animals he sacrificed. It is said that the practice of carrying the bones or skulls of a successful hunt captures the spirit of the murdered and represents the courage and bravery of the captor.
Warrior's posture: A man stands with the weapons that were once used to cut heads of the enemy tribe with what appear to be the rings of buffalo horns woven into his head. In the murderous apogee of the tribe, each village had a house of skulls and it was expected that all the men of the village would contribute the heads of their opposite tribes.
Through the generations: an old warrior stands in front of the entrance of a traditional hut, holding the hand of his grandson. He wears a traditional collar and holds a spear while his grandson is dressed in modern and manufactured clothing
Two Konyak women pose inside their houses where you can see hunting tools hanging on the wall (left). The tribes are still very traditional in their forms, using buffaloes to transport forest trunks and boiling hot water for tea in green bamboo next to open fires. These women only have some arm and shoulder tattoos that fade
These women proudly hold two sharp three-pronged spears used by members of their tribe to hunt and kill prey. They are beautifully decorated with layers of beaded necklaces and colorful shawls
Covered with horns: one of the scouts poses with huge horns wrapped around his body and pierced through the lobes of his ears. His ink patterns on his back indicate his brutal past where each murder was rewarded with some fresh ink
These men show off their impressive headdresses that were once decorated with the decapitated heads of enemy villagers. The Konyak were famous for wandering the villages of other tribes, collecting heads, feet and hands as trophies and hanging them on the largest tree in their village.
The wood carvings of native animals such as crocodiles, lions and buffalo are engraved on a wall where large brass and copper saucers hang on the walls of this man's house. He wears a thick fur coat to keep warm during the coldest and coldest months
Two heavily tattooed men stand at the entrance of a traditional hut, with wooden racks to stand firm. His tattoos are part of a beautiful intricate body process in which the body is understood as a canvas for art, with inscriptions marked on the skin as a form of rite of passage and life cycle
This woman of the tribe continues to honor the unique practice that fades from the body tattoo and perforation. The open holes in the lobes of his ears indicate many years of wearing heavy jewelry
In the depth of concentration: a woman of the tribe holds a sharp needle to mark the ink inside the skin. The different tattoo patterns represent different meanings and traditions, and can reflect folk tales, songs, poems and sayings
Thick with ink: this man's face is almost completely black with ink. It is an indication that this man is a prominent member of the tribe and has committed many deaths. Each set of tattoos recognizes the skill of a warrior as a headhunter
Close-up: these men show their very faded tattoos, which is an essential and celebrated part of the Konyak culture. Despite the dramatic changes in modern life, the tribes of the third age continue to show great pride for their culture