Ngon Pok remembers his father and grandfather returning triumphantly to his tribal village in Myanmar’s far north with a human head — and the agony of the tattoo he was given to celebrate their victory.
He is a proud member of the Lainong, one of dozens of Naga tribes — many with grisly histories — wedged in a semi-autonomous zone near the Indian border.
Ngon Pok, who believes he’s around 80, gestures to his six-year-old grandson, saying he must have been about the same age when he received his tattoo.
“People had to catch me and hold me down,” he tells AFP, removing his jumper to reveal his chest adorned with parallel, vertical stripes and two warrior figures.
Tribes and villages commonly waged war over land, and there are reports of warriors hacking off their enemies’ heads for trophies as late as the 1960s.