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   xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Nov 2 12:31 AM

Nov 2, 2010: Shrunken Heads

Hey sailor, want a little head, only $25... or a gun.
That was the going price for a tsantsa (real shrunken head), from the Jivaroan peoples, prior to possession being outlawed by Ecuador & Peru in the 1930s. The US followed suit in the 1940s.



Quote:
The practice of preparing shrunken heads originally had religious significance; shrinking the head of an enemy was believed to harness the spirit of that enemy and compel him to serve the shrinker. It was said to prevent the soul from avenging his death.
Shuar believed in the existence of three fundamental spirits:

Wakani - innate to humans thus surviving their death.
Arutam - literally "vision" or "power", protects humans from a violent death.
Muisak - vengeful spirit, which surfaces when an arutam spirit-carrying person is murdered.

To block the last spirit from using its powers, they decided to sever their enemies' heads and shrink them. The process also served as a way of warning those enemies. Even with these uses, the owner of the trophy did not keep it for long. Many heads were later used in religious ceremonies and feasts that celebrated the victories of the tribe. Accounts vary as to whether the heads would be discarded or stored.
But most of the tsantsa out there are phony.

Quote:
Also encouraged by this trade, as early as the 1870s people in Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador unconnected to the Jívaros began to make counterfeit tsantsas. They used corpses from morgues, or the heads of monkeys or sloths. Some even used goatskin. Kate Duncan wrote in 2001 that "It has been estimated that about 80 percent of the tsantsas in private and museum hands are fraudulent," including almost all that are female or which include an entire torso rather than just a head.
Of course the Melanesians were supposed to shrink heads also, which is another interesting connection between the Pacific islands and South America.

You can read about the process here or here.


Trilby  Tuesday Nov 2 01:27 AM

the guy on the left looks familiar...



spudcon  Tuesday Nov 2 02:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianna View Post
the guy on the left looks familiar...
Yeah, I think I saw him buried up to his head in mud at Woostock. Glad to see someone gave him a shampoo.


Sheldonrs  Tuesday Nov 2 09:35 AM

Who doesn't like a little head?




newtimer  Tuesday Nov 2 10:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brianna View Post
the guy on the left looks familiar...
I think he was one of the guys from ABBA. Now we know why they haven't made any albums in a long time.


glatt  Tuesday Nov 2 10:56 AM

I remember being fascinated by a shrunken head in a museum when I was a kid, but can't remember which one. I've tried to find it by revisiting the museums from my youth, but haven't been able to. I assume it was taken from public display.

Recently, I looked into shrunken heads, and was reading about them online. I found some website with stories about people who not too long ago (70's) traveled into the jungle to try to get shrunken heads from the tribes and were never heard from again. Then later, shrunken heads of a few white people (perhaps those collectors) showed up on the market.

It's kind of gruesome to be collecting trophy human parts.



SPUCK  Wednesday Nov 3 06:12 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt View Post
It's kind of gruesome to be collecting trophy human parts.

Naw... I like my human skin leather chair.


xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Nov 3 08:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt View Post
I remember being fascinated by a shrunken head in a museum when I was a kid, but can't remember which one. I've tried to find it by revisiting the museums from my youth, but haven't been able to. I assume it was taken from public display.
A lot of US museums have been caught up in the politically correct tide, returning human remains to their home countries, or native tribes. Other displays have been shuffled off to the back room to avoid criticism.

I looked for a story I read while putting this shrunken heads post together, and Googled "museums returning human remains"... I got 383,000 hits.


spudcon  Wednesday Nov 3 03:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SPUCK View Post
Naw... I like my human skin leather chair.
I'm glad to hear that Spuck. The wild Naugas are becoming extinct world wide.


dirkydirk  Wednesday Nov 3 05:10 PM

On the right

Is he the singer with Guns and Roses ?



Sundae  Wednesday Nov 3 05:16 PM

I'm pretty sure I saw a shrunken head in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. No idea if it was fake of course.
I also saw the mummified head of St Catherine in a church in Siena (Italy).
She doesn't have the Pantene locks of the chap above left.



spudcon  Wednesday Nov 3 10:51 PM

I had her as my 4th grade teacher.



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