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Last year our roaming photographer Diana Jarvis took some time away from her usual stomping grounds in Europe and headed to the far northeastern Indian state of Nagalandto witness the annual Hornbill Festival. Here, she shares 15 pictures of the region’s fascinating tribes.

“I’d visited India on several other occasions but my trip to Nagaland was a real photographer’s dream”, she says, “the people are extremely welcoming and proud to show off their cultural heritage but equally connected to the modern world and, like anywhere else in India, they love to pose for photos.”

“Nagaland didn’t become part of India until 1963 and, owing to its remote position bordering Assam and Myanmar, doesn’t feature regularly on many an Indian itinerary. During the second world war, however, the capital city Kohima was the site of a famous frontier battle between the Allies and the Japanese troops. As a result, the people of Nagaland have a great fondness for the efficiency of the Brits and many speak perfect English.”

“The landscape is mountainous, dramatic and teeming with wildlife. The food – give or take the odd blow-your-head-off Naga chilli – was so unique and tasty that they have their own annual Masterchef competition at the Hornbill Festival. Other cultural highlights include demonstrations of a traditional stone-throwing game, ceremonial chanting, warrior dances, plays performed in various Naga dialects and the greased-bamboo climbing competition – but my highlight was witnessing the stone pulling at Viswema which, apparently, only happens roughly once every seven years.”

A man from the Konyak tribe in battle mode

A man from the Konyak tribe in battle mode, Nagaland, India

Ladies of the Konyak tribe fix an earring

Ladies of the Konyak tribe, Nagaland, India

Greased bamboo pole climbing competition at the Hornbill Festival

Greased bamboo pole climbing competition at the Hornbill Festival, Nagaland, India

A gun-toting tribe line up for action

Gun-toting tribe, Nagaland, India

Stone throwing gets underway

Stone throwing game demo at the Hornbil Festival, Nagaland, India

Tribal men display feathers and weapons

Tribal men in Nagaland, India

Hornbill Festival dancing begins

Festival, Nagaland, India

An Angami tribesman

Angami tribesman, Nagaland, India

A Konyak tribesman

Man from Konyak tribe, Nagaland, India

A smile as tribes get together

Traditional tribes in Nagaland, India


Konyak tribe member captures the moment

Konyak tribe member taking photos on mobile, Nagaland, India

Stone pulling underway at Viswema village

Men at stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland

Crowds gather

Stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland, India

All hands on deck

Stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland, India

A ceremonial start

Stone pulling ceremony at Viswema village, Nagaland

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