My recent obsession is the Naga tribe, a group of historical headhunters relatively unaffected by modern society. They are a nomadic Hill Tribe who live in and around Burma and India. I stumbled across this magnificent collection of pictures by photographer Pablo Bartholomew that was on display at the Rubin Museum of Art in 2009. Click here for slide show.
Here’s the blurb from the website: “Indian photographer Pablo Bartholomew (b. 1955) grew up hearing stories of Naga tribes from his father Richard Bartholomew, who fled persecution by the invading Japanese forces in his native Burma (present-day Myanmar) to India during World War II and encountered Burmese Nagas along the way.
Bartholomew’s father related tales of the Nagas’ hospitality and kindness, planting a seed of curiosity in his son’s mind that would finally bear fruit in 1989 when Bartholomew began what he calls a “visual anthropological project,” photographing Naga tribes over a period of nearly ten years.
Despite the danger posed by low-level warfare between the Indian army and secessionist groups along his path to the Naga hills, Bartholomew describes his trips there as “an escape…where phones didn’t work, there were no faxes, and just the hill tribes and people of the valleys.”
“Residing in the low Himalayan hills of northeastern India and Myanmar (Burma), the Nagas are a people faced with both tradition and transition. This very diverse community is divided into a number of tribes and sub-tribes and speaks as many as 30 different languages. In Nagas: Hidden Hill People of India photographer Pablo Bartholomew offers a visual anthropology of these historical headhunters, particularly the preservation of their traditional culture and their interaction with and adoption of Western religion and influence.”