Headhunting is the tribal tradition of collecting the heads of the dead enemies as a trophy, carried out for ceremonial-ritualistic purposes that the Wancho tribe practiced to help them gain prosperity.
The Wancho tribe has its origins in Mongolia and at present is settled in the Upper Hills of the Patkai Ranges that are on the Myanmar – Arunachal border of India, sometime in the 12th and 13th Century AD.
Wancho’s are a ferocious headhunting warrior tribe that follow Animism and have been known to be followers of the Laws of the forefathers, which involved them in regular headhunting rituals for protecting the land of their forefathers or for acquiring new territories during land and territory disputes. The practice of headhunting was abolished in the 1960’s with the advent of civil society and Christianity in the geography.
This series is part of a set of perspectives on land-based conflicted geographies, that has been the artists’ pursuit in the North East part of the Country and captures the last remaining headhunters of the Wancho tribe.
Fearlessly documenting the indigenous, headhunting Wancho Tribe of North East India, photographer Udit Kulshrestha talks about his journey of working on this series and why it is intrinsically about identities : Arts Illustrated