Shrunken Human Heads

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Recent searches have landed me here: Shrunken Human Heads. Not too shocking, but I am a tad surprised that they’re actually for sale. Today I offer thou some shrunken head history.

Heads up

It is believed that this practice originated from the Jivaroan tribe in the Northwest portion of the Amazon, it was often found in Equador and Peru where the heads were used in religious ceremonies.

It was thought that if one shrunk the head of an enemy, his spirit would be forced to serve the person who had performed the shrinking. Even more importantly, the victim’s spirit would be incapable of seeking revenge against the person who took his life. Evil, vengeful spirits were something people had been seriously concerned with, but since it was believed that the soul resided in the head, problem solved!

Turns out, shrinking a head is a lot of work. First, the hair must be separated from the scalp as it shrinks at a different rate. Then all the bones and fat are actually removed from the head, the eyes are sewn closed, and the head is boiled in a pot with special herbs and spices for a certain amount of time. When said head is approximately 1/3 of it’s original size, it is turned inside out and the rest of the flesh scraped off. After this, they rub the head down with charcoal ashes; as it turns out, this is a very important step in keeping that vengeful soul from escaping and exacting his revenge. Lastly, the head would then be hung over a fire to harden.

In the 16th century, Spanish Conquistadors decided to check out the Amazon Rainforest, and they met with the Shaur people for the the first time. Can you imagine what they thought the first time they saw these? They were amazed!

Of course it didn’t take long for someone to realize that these peculiar oddities could catch a pretty penny if sold to collectors. Today there are many sites dedicated to showing you how to tell an authentic head from an imitation, so you’re not duped into purchasing a fake shrunken head. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

A site for your shopping pleasure:

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2 Replies to “Shrunken Human Heads”

  1. I could never buy one. They look cool and all, but I touched one at a museum and has weeks of nightmares. This was when museums had displays you could interact with. It still has nasal hair and the head exuded a bad odor.

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