Shrunken Heads - Museum Quality
Created by the same people that made the shrunken head that hung from Johnny Depp's belt in Pirate's of the Caribbean, these heads are truly
These "tsantsa" or human shrunken head, are made in Ecuador by indigenous artisans, crafted from animal skin using traditional methods, and comparing in quality the original tsantsa shrunken heads of the Jivaro tribes.
The Jivaro are a South American tribe of people who live on the eastern slopes of
the Andes Mountain Chain in Northern Peru and Southeastern Ecuador, north of
the Marandon River. The Jivaro (from the Spanish Jibaro) call themselves "Shuara," and are in 5 related groups which include:
The Jivaro proper, the Antipa, the Achual, the Huambiza and the Aguaruna. The Jivaro are hunter-gatherers, supplemented by some tropical forest agriculture. They are a warlike people, and there is a lot of feuding among the different tribes. The weapons of the Jivaros include blowguns
with poisoned darts.
When a person from an opposing group is murdered, the killer must go through an
elaborate ceremony to protect himself from being haunted by the dead man’s spirit. The victims are always male, and the murder may be for revenge or for fear. After the killing, the warrior is temporarily ostracized from the tribe, and a skeleton is painted on the outside of his body. He is kept away from his tribe for a period of time until he is considered to be purified.
When the warrior is going through the purification process, the head of his victim
is put through its own process of becoming a "shrunken head."
First, the Jivaros cut the head off the corpse. Then, after some incisions, the
skull is removed through its neck. The skin of the face, scalp and head is then dipped into boiling water three separate times.
This is part of the ritual process. After the dipping is completed, the skin of the head is put into a pot to boil. It is said that the liquid the head is boiled in is from the juice of the "huito" plant. Modern anthropologists do not know what the huito
plant is, as the Jivaros keep it a secret.
After the boiling process, the head is put on top of a spear, which is stuck in the
ground, to dry overnight. The next day, the ears are removed and the mouth and
eyelids are sewn closed.
The heads are all individually hand crafted from tanned and formed goat or alpaca skin and hair in Ecuador by a talented artisan using methods comparable to original tsantsa (head shrinking) as performed by the Jivaro tribes. The heads pictured are "models". Each tsantsa is an original masterpiece, no two are exactly alike.