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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, June 21, 2014: Headhunters, Borneo


To view any society one dimensionally makes no sense, of course, except maybe for the sake of a good headline (pun intended).  The people of Borneo were, however, sometimes prone to settling disputes with warfare that included collecting enemy heads.  While the practice might seem to many westerners one of ancient history, it ended not so very long ago, if indeed it actually has ended, and in the forest communities I visited one still sees evidence in the form of throat tattoos on elderly men, thought to toughen the skin in an attempt to thwart the enemy.

The heads and beautiful basket work seen here are on display in the ethnographic collection of the Sarawak Museum in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo.  Kuching was founded by Rajah James Brooke who tried unsuccessfully to end the practice during his rule of Sarawak in the mid-19th century.


To follow PortMoresby's series on Borneo, click HERE


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  • Headhunters1
  • Headhunters2

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