Konyak Naga Facial Tattoo - Penlung

“We are born with nothing. We die with nothing. The only thing we can take with us is our tattoo.”

Our interview with Penlung was our last before we left Sheanghah Chingnyu. We had been trying to catch him for a couple of days, but despite the constant rain and his age, he was always out working. We finally managed to meet him on our way home late one night and asked if we could see him the following morning. As a devout Christian, he would be taking Sunday off except for church, so we would finally be able to meet him.

In his village, he is somewhat of a legend. He was the head of a large Morung (men’s dormitory) and thus was afforded great respect. He personally led all of the animal sacrifices for his Morung and was given the best cuts of meat from any game. His house is still adorned with the skulls of the animal sacrifices he made and he keeps his old weapons safe, despite not needing them anymore.

He recalls his life back then and says that he has no regrets. His people were often at war and lived in constant fear. That was his time and now everything has changed. He notes that his tattoo used to make him feel a oneness with his peers, but now there are only a few old men who bear these marks and people single him out these days. Despite this, he believes that his tattoo is the only thing he will take with him to the grave. With these words, he goes to prepare himself for church.

Konyak Naga Warrior - Penlung

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