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Jean-Christian Cottu


“In 10 or perhaps 15 years, most if not all of these former Konyak headhunters and their wives will be dead. Their faded tattoo adorned faces will be buried beneath Christian headstones in hilltop villages in the remote Mon district of Nagaland in Northeast India. With their demise, the living memories of their unique cultural existence will disappear for eternity.

These elderly men and women have lived through a time when tribal warfare still resolved certain territorial conflicts. Their backs, torsos and facial tattoos bear witness to mortal combat and the customary headhunting. They were born into and inherited a strong tribal identity, which extended to the physical boundaries of their lands. They will die having intermittent access to limited aspects of modernity, and having partially embraced a Baptist based Christianity. ” Aidan McGloin

In February 2013, I traveled across Rajasthan with a portable photo studio and a medium format digital camera. The photo sessions were organized like film shoots: form a team and find an assistant, scout for locations and settings, hold a casting session for models and only shoot when the light is right. After this initial, rather successful first experiment, I organized a second trip with my ethnographer friend Aidan McGloin.

Jean-Christian Cottu

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