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Webster’s Thomas Groves Documents the Headhunters Of Nagaland

Thomas GrovesIn the jungles of northeast India and remote northwest Myanmar, warriors from the Konyak tribe continue to live a life that is steeped in ancient traditions and beliefs. Often referred to as the “headhunters of Nagaland”, members of the Konyak tribe are facing a constant battle to maintain their ancestral lands, their identity and their way of life. Largely isolated from the rest of the Indian and Myanmar populations, this group is perhaps one of the least understood tribes in the world.

Thomas Groves documents NagalandTo better appreciate the everyday life of this somewhat mysterious group of people, Webster Thailand's School of Communications lecturer Thomas Groves recently embarked on a photography expedition to Longwa in remote India. During his time in Longwa he met with local villagers and tribe members that were able to provide him with a fascinating insight in to the everyday lives and culture of their village.

Thomas Groves documents NagalandAs one of only about 150 tourists to visit Longwa each year, Groves was able to meet face to face with a number of tribe members, many of whom carry distinct tattoos on their faces and necks. Representing the number of heads taken, the tattoos carry with them great honour and symbolism within the community. Only able to be given by the Queen herself, tattoos remain an important marker of identity and social status to this day.

Thomas Groves documents NagalandThroughout his journey to Nagaland, Mr. Groves was able to document and better understand the complex history of this tribe. In addition, he was able learn more about a number of the challenges that the tribe currently face including changes to religious beliefs, substance abuse, and a loss of historic traditions.

Describing his trip as an exchange of “culture and acceptance”, Mr. Groves’ incredible photographs capture the beauty and strength of this fascinating group of people. A full account of Thomas’ expedition to Nagaland was recently featured in the Expat Life in Thailand website and can be found here.

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