… To the uttermost parts of the earth
Via hawkeyed reader DLB, a National Geographic article about … and I’m not making this up … the headhunters of Nagaland (headhunting as in skulls, not executive jobs) and gospel music.
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His necklace sports five small brass heads representing, he tells me, the five heads his father and grandfather took during battles to defend their village.
“Where are those skulls today?” I ask.
“Under the floor of our meeting house, where we buried all of the skulls after we became Christians.” It’s a response that I’ll hear repeatedly in this tribal area. In only three villages do I actually see the skulls, the evidence of Nagaland’s violent history.
In the last village that I visit, I talk with another former headhunter, then return to our vehicle. That’s when I hear a familiar sound coming from a small hut. Not quite believing my ears, I ask my guide, “What is that music?”
“Do you happen to know the Gaither Vocal Band?”
“Yes, I do,” I reply. Bill Gaither’s group comes out of the Southern gospel tradition, playing music you might hear on a Sunday morning in small-town Mississippi. But hearing it on a Thursday morning in a village in remote Nagaland is a bit surprising. “The Gaither Vocal Band is very popular in Nagaland,” my guide explains. Gospel music and headhunters in the same village? What’s next?