Kohima, November 26, 2013
A considerable number of cultural and tattoo enthusiasts from the region marked the success and added fuel to Mo Naga’s initiative to protect, revive and promote the tribal tattoos of north-east here in Kohima.
The three day educational seminar cum workshop – “Tattoos and Art Culture of the Nagas” – organized from 21st -23rd November, 2013, saw a series of activities where various tattoo and art connoisseurs participated and shared their experiences.
On the first day of the seminar, the founder of Headhunters’ Ink, Mo Naga disclosed various truths behind the misinterpretations about the symbols used by the age old tribal communities and their signature tribal tattoos.
He also disclosed his first research based Naga symbol, and the logo of Headhunters’ Ink – the protector’s eye or the evil eye; a concept which can be found in numerous cultures of the world. It is a symbol which is marked on a person or any structure as a mark of protection from evil curses sent through the eyes (also known as buri nazar in India). At present the Turkish evil eye, the Egyptian evil eye or the Eye of Horus is well known across the world.
Even in India the Bindi is a mark of protection similar to this concept. During his trip to the interiors of Nagaland, Mo Naga found that the very same concept is also prevalent among certain tribes of Nagaland and the Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.
According to Mo Naga’s findngs, the symbol of the Naga’s protector’s eye or the third eye were tattooed on women’s forehead by many tribes in and around the Tuensang district of Nagaland to protect themselves the current life as well as the afterlife.
The protector’s eye not only protects from evil curses sent through the eyes but also from physical harm by wild animals like tigers and other superior phenomenon. The symbol is still currently used by many more tribes not just in Nagaland but also in Manipur, Arunachal etc. woven into their shawls and as accessories.
Mo Naga in his speech said “Qualified historians from Europe and anthropologists had earlier interpreted this symbol as pattern taken from the catfish’s head, or simply as a crab. I feel honoured and lucky to have gotten the opportunity to study and disclose such mysterious and significant symbols. This symbol is a new addition to the world of art and design, and most importantly to the evil eye collection of the world. As a community we should be proud about this contribution. I am confident that this symbol is going to take the world of art and design by storm”.
He further added “Most of our ancestor’s beliefs and stories are hidden away and lost this way. Knowing that art and culture is the base of our identity, such discoveries and unveiling of the truth will go a long way in strengthening our Naga identity which has been very often misinterpreted to the outside world. Huge chunk of our real identity is still yet to be unveiled. This is the first Headhunters’Ink’s contribution to the society. We have a huge database of research- audio, video, pictures and books. We will soon come up with more of such fact disclosers. Join us in our mission to preserve, protect and promote our culture. Please support Headhunters’Ink”.
The day further witnessed Mo Naga talking about Naga tattoo and art culture in the past and its condition today. Mo also unveiled important Naga symbols and their meanings which he came across his research-based journey in past few months in the region. Mo Naga also made aware of the global tattoo culture and tattoo revival activities undertaken by various organizations across the world. The day ended with open and overwhelming discussions with the audience and
Nokrenmatang Soyah, a graduate of fine arts from Shanti Niketan who participated in the seminar said, “I think this is the first step any person has ever taken to educate, preserve and promote the culture and tradition of the Nagas in a different perspective, which is almost lost. I hope this would open the eyes of us Nagas, and help them realize who we really are.”
The second day kick started with live painting demonstrations by Shokreishang Keishing of The Dream Catchers, and Lemsentong of IL Tattoo, Kohima. The demonstration was followed by Naga art and design workshop spearheaded by master artist Shokreishang Keishing (The Dream Catchers) and Mo Naga (Headhunters’ Ink). The main focus of the day was to throw an open invitation to interested artists, designers and art & culture experts to showcase their artworks, out of which the three best motifs would be etched on live skin on the final day.
On the final day of the event, Mo Naga arranged for a live tattoo demonstration, where the contemporary Naga inspired motifs created by the local artists were etched on live skin. At the end of the third day, the artists who had prepared the top three designs on were awarded with Headhunters’ Ink merchandize by Mo Naga. Nokrenmatang Soyah, Taka Jamir and Joy Khamrang won the first, second and third prizes respectively.
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