HUMAN VICTIM SKULL #22
CHILD'S SKULL WITH THE TRADITIONAL
ASMAT TRIBAL SYMBOL ON THE FOREHEAD
THAT INDICATES A HEADHUNTED CANNIBALIZED VICTIM
ASMAT TRIBE: HUMAN VICTIM SKULL #22
TWO COLOR SEEDS, FIBER, FEATHERS, SHELL, PIGMENTS
CANNIBALIZED CHILD WITH THE TRADITIONAL ASMAT
TRIBAL SYMBOL ON THE FOREHEAD THAT INDICATES A VICTIM.
A HOLE WAS CUT INTO THE SKULL AND THE BRAINS WERE EATEN
western part of New Guinea Island.
The Asmat not only hunt for skulls, but they also worshipped them. Skulls of the deceased are stripped of brains and the eyes and nasal passages are closed with seeds and beads in order to prevent evil spirits from entering or exiting the decease's body. Decorated skulls of headhunting victims and ancestors are displayed in sacred locations in their long houses.
Headhunting raids were an important element of Asmat culture until missionaries suppressed the practice. The death of an adult, even by disease, was believed to be caused by an enemy, and relatives sought to take a head in an endless cycle of revenge and propitiation of ancestors. Heads were thought necessary for the rituals in which boys were initiated into manhood. Cannibalism was a subsidiary feature of the rituals that
followed the taking of heads.
The first apparent sighting of the Asmat people by explorers was from
the deck of a ship led by a Dutch trader, Jan Carstensz in the year 1623.
Captain James Cook and his crew were the first to actually land in Asmat
on September 3, 1770 (near what is now the village of Pirimapun).
According to the journals of Captain Cook, a small party from the
HM Bark Endeavor encountered a group of Asmat warriors;
sensing a threat, the explorers quickly retreated.
The Asmat are an Indonesian cannibalistic tribe on the island;
Papua. Known to use human skulls under their heads for pillows,
they also have been reported to eat human brains mixed with sago
worms straight from halved human skulls. The Asmat live in
mangrove vegetation near the sea and rivers, on the south side
of the western part of New Guinea. The Asmat, in addition to hunting
for skulls, also worshipped them. Ancestor skulls are stripped of
brains and eyes! Nasal passages are closed to prevent evil spirits
from entering or exit the body. Asmat decorated skulls
are displayed in sacred places inside Asmat domiciles.
Asmat art, most noticeably elaborate, stylized wood carving,
is designed to honor ancestors. Many Asmat artifacts have been
collected by the world's museums, among the most notable of which
are those found in the Michael C. Rockefeller Collection at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Tropen Museum
in Amsterdam. One of the most comprehensive collections of Asmat Art
can be found in the American Museum of Asmat Art at the
University of Saint Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Until the 1950s, their remote and harsh location isolated the Asmat
from other peoples. It was not until the mid-20th century that they
came into regular contact with outsiders. The Asmat were documented
headhunters and cannibals, and as a consequence were left
largely undisturbed until the mid-20th century.
Traditionally, many Asmat men practiced polygamy by marrying
more than one woman. In many cases, men were expected to marry
a male relative's wife when that relative dies (otherwise the woman and her
children would be left without a source of protection or economic support).
Many Asmat men had long-term ritual sexual/friendship relationships with
other men, although the prevalence of this practice has been disputed by
others. In the mbai system, male partners were also known to share
their wives in a practice called papitsj.
The natural environment has been a major factor affecting the Asmat,
as their culture and way of life are heavily dependent on the rich natural resources found in their
forests, rivers, and seas. The Asmat mainly subsist on starch from the sago palm
(Metroxylon sagu), fish, forest game, and other items gathered from their forests and waters.
Materials for canoes, dwellings, and woodcarvings are also all gathered locally,
and thus their culture and biodiversity are intertwined. Due to the daily flooding which occurs
in many parts of their land, Asmat dwellings have typically been built two or more meters
above the ground, raised on wooden posts. In some inland regions, the Asmat have lived in
tree houses, sometimes as high as 25 meters from the ground. The Asmat have traditionally placed
great emphasis on the veneration of ancestors, particularly those who were accomplished warriors.
Asmat art, most noticeably elaborate, stylized wood carving, is designed to honour ancestors.
Many Asmat artifacts have been collected by the world's museums, among the most notable of
which are those found in the Michael C. Rockefeller Collection at the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in New York City and the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.
ANCESTOR SKULLS ARE COLLECTED AND VENERATED TO REMEMBER
DECEASED FAMILY MEMBERS. THE IFUGAO COLLECT BONES OF DEAD
RELATIVES; WRAP THEM IN TRIBAL TEXTILES, AND STORE THEM IN THE
RAFTERS UNDER THEIR HUTS. HUMAN SKULLS AND SKULL CAPS FROM
NEPAL ARE RITUAL OFFERTORY VESSELS THAT ARE USED AS
DRINKING CUPS IN TIBETAN BUDDHIST CEREMONIES.
FEATHERS, SEEDS, AND CARVED SEA SHELL NOSE RINGS
TO THEIR DECEASED ANCESTOR'S SKULLS.
THE IFUGAO TRIBE, FROM THE PHILIPPINES, PLACE HEAD HUNTED
HUMAN TROPHY SKULLS OUTSIDE OF THEIR HUTS, AS WELL AS,
MOUNT THEM OVER THEIR HEARTHS INSIDE OF THEIR HOMES.
THE DAYAK, IFUGAO, AND NAGA HUMAN SKULLS ARE HEAD HUNTING TROPHIES.
"ANCESTOR" SKULLS. THE DIFFERENCE IS; HEAD HUNTED SKULLS
ARE ACQUIRED FROM ENEMY