Phejin has chosen a path of research which is close to her heart and culture. She is documenting a practice of tattooing amongst her tribespeople and will publish her findings in a book, “The Last of the Tattooed headhunters: Konyaks.”
What’s your story?
I am researching and documenting the vanishing tattoo tradition and practice of my tribe, the Konyak. The Konyak’s inhabit the Mon District of the Nagaland state, Northeast India. This practice of visual body art has been practiced for several generations and it was associated with the practice of headhunting. It was a mark of the initiation of the boy from pubescence to manhood. Depending on his role and feats accomplished in the raid, individuals were incised with the marks and conferred the status of warriors. For the females, tattooing was a mark of the cycle of life; from being a child at her father’s house, to marriageability, marital status, betrothal and fertility. Due to the arrival of Christianity to the tribe, and their conversion to it, this traditional practice dwindled as it was considered a heathen practice. This culture is vanishing with only a few surviving old tattooed men and women. My research aims to document this culture before all is lost into three publications in English, local Konyak language and an illustrated book for children. The name of my upcoming book is “The Last of the Tattooed Headhunters: The Konyak’s” and it will share the outcome of my research and documentation on the vanishing tattoo tradition and practice of the Konyak tribe.
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about this endeavour of mine is that, this research and documentation work is the only intensive work that is well-documented solely on the Konyak tattoo practice till now. As no other previous research has ever been done before. That makes my work very unique and special, both for me as well as my tribe.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and brought up in Asia. My ancestors have always been here. This is my home.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Kathmandu, because of its rich cultural heritage as well as the trekking capital of the world.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
From my parents, “hard work, determination with positive attitude is the formula for living a life of success as well as positive energy.”
Who inspires you?
My father inspires me. He has proven that with hardwork, determination and positive attitude one can get ahead in life.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I have just learnt the traditional method and technique of making Konyak tribal pottery. It is a hand moulded method and no potter’s wheel is used.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am content with what I am and what I’m doing now. There is no way I would wish to have done things differently.
How do you unwind?
I unwind by reading, gardening and planting different varieties of plants, flowers and vegetables.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Kathmandu. Because I love trekking and the Himalayas is just waiting to be explored. That is my relaxation, trekking in the Himalayas.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Power by Rhonda Byrne
Shameless plug for your business:
People should watch out for my upcoming book on the vanishing tattoo tradition of the Konyak’s called, “The Last of the Tattooed Headhunters:The Konyak’s.” The updates can be tracked on my website – www.tattooedheadhunters.com
How can people connect with you?
People can connect with me through:
Email – [email protected]
Facebook – Phejin Konyak
Websites – www.tattooedheadhunters.com , www.konyaktearetreat.com
Facebook page: The Konyak Tea Retreat
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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