**Originally Listed At $400**
Central Asia, Burma/India border, Nagaland, ca. early to mid 20th CE. A Chang Naga warrior ceremonial textile comprised of finely woven natural cotton cloth and cowrie shells. This composition features one central cowrie shell abstract human figure flanked by six cowrie shell circles sewn to a black cloth decorated with 9 rows of red squares, 4 green stripes to each side of the red squares, and a fringed border. A cloak like this was only worn by warriors of elite status who took more than 6 heads. The practice of headhunting was banned in the 1960's. According to the South Asia Collection, "The cowrie shells are a symbol of immortality, a sign of fertility and a talisman to ward off evil. The human figures represent the dead and the circles represent both heads and the moon, which is also a symbol of fertility." Size: 61" L x 42" W (154.9 cm x 106.7 cm)
A similar example may be found in the South Asia Collection. According to the curatorial team, "Nagaland has a strong warrior tradition and headhunting was a significant part of its culture for many years. Strict rules surrounded the practice of headhunting. For example, heads would only be removed from the body after death. By taking the heads of their enemies Naga warriors could provide evidence of their victory, but they also believed the potency of fertility resides in the human head. By removing the head, the warrior released that life force for the benefit of his community.
This body cloth indicates that its wearer had head-taker and feast-giver status; the highest status amongst the Naga. The cowrie shells are a symbol of immortality, a sign of fertility and a talisman to ward off evil. The human figures represent the dead and the circles represent both heads and the moon, which is also a symbol of fertility.
The Indian Government banned the practice of headhunting in 1960 but Naga jewellery, textiles and festivals continue to reflect this tradition." (https://thesouthasiacollection.co.uk/object-of-the-month/moh-nei-naga-body-cloth/)
Provenance: private Johnson collection, Los Angeles, California, USA
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Only slight age wear. A wonderful example.