Although the subject is ‘tribal’ art, Naga: Awe-Inspiring Beauty is neither a book of exotic travel nor an essay in applied anthropology. By way of the exceptional Gillion Crowet collection, it invites the reader to encounter a long-neglected culture from the borderlands of India and Burma.
Closed off from the world, the Nagas developed a unique culture centred on headhunting as a means of securing the life force that drives the universe. Both sophisticated and terrifying, Naga culture found in artistic creativity the means to express its concept of the cosmos with a sensitivity and a subtlety which are all too seldom seen.
This magnificent collection of Naga art includes hundreds of pieces, with carvings and personal ornaments of extremely high quality. Furthermore, the cultural approach makes an aesthetic appreciation possible that puts Naga artistry at the summit of ‘tribal’ art.
Unlike essentially anthropological writings, Michel Draguet’s essay seeks to underline the artistic quality of artefacts which are, above all, works of art that attest to the cultural and social values of a range of Naga
ethnic groups.
By placing pictures of the pieces themselves face to face with old photographs, this book brings to life a vanished civilisation through images in which beauty inspires awe.