A ‘Real’ Great Hornbill Mount, Nagaland

Sandesh Kadur

Sanjeeb Baruah
Hornbill mounts are an important aspect of Naga handicraft.

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

It is pretty ironic that Nagaland's premier festival is named after the bird that is virtually extinct in the state thanks to excessive hunting. Only some human-uninhabited forests in the state may hold the last few hornbills in Nagaland.

This image taken at the annual 2010 Hornbill Festival in Nagaland shows real (top) and fake hornbill mounts being sold. According to the photographer, there were at least half a dozen real heads on display in addition to hornbill tail feathers. The govt. of Nagaland has been attempting to move various tribes from using real hornbill body parts (head, casque and feathers) as part of their costumes and handicrafts — with mixed results.

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