The Naga tattoos were a rite of passage made to mark achievement, valour, bravery, beauty, identification and status in our society. It was practiced among the indigenous Naga communities of the Ao, Chang, Phom, Pochury, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Sangtam, and Yimchungru. To each community, the reasons attributed were different yet similar in a few ways.
Among the Ao’s only women were tattooed as it symbolized their coming of age and further inked as a mark of beauty. The Chang women tattooed to keep themselves safe from tigers while they ventured into forests as they believed that tigers understood the marking on their face and would spare their lives. But the Chang men got their mark as a medal awarded to a warrior for headtaking. The Khiamniungan, Konyak, Sangtam and Yimchungru also conformed to a similar belief and marked themselves but the designs and location on the body varied. The Yimchungru believed that their tattoos would provide a safe passage on their journey to the afterlife.