Context

Context of "Shrunken human head from Ecuador.The Jibaro tribe of Indians, who occupy the Western Slopes of the Andes , when they kill their enemies, remove the bones from the head, and by a partially secret process, shrink the head and preserve the physiognomy. The head is about the size of an adults closed fist.Presented by Dr. Judson Daland."The specimen of Shrunken Head was obtained while I was in Ecuador in the summer of 1930. The Government of Ecuador does not permit the sale of shrunken heads, nor do they permit them to leave the country, for the reason that this encourages the killing of men to keep up the supply. On one occasion, a Shrunken Head was offered for sale having red hair, and was evidently an European who was either murdered or killed in battle. There are but few specimens in existence, and the price varies from $100.00 to $500.00 , and this specimen cost about $100.00. The shrunken heads, so far as I know, are only prepared by a certain tribe of Indians, known as the Jibaros tribe, who inhabit the western slopes of the Andes and the contiguous Amazonian valley, and I saw a number of these Indians while in Quito. For centuries, they have been in the habit of decapitating their enemies and shrinking their heads, which are hung in their habitations as souvenirs, indicating courage, and perhaps they entertain mystic ideas regarding the beneficial influence from the spirit of the one whom they have killed. The general process of shrinking the head is known, but there are details not known. The process requires many days, the first step being an incision from the center of the hair line of the forehead, to the nuchal region; cutting back the soft tissue of the head and the face; the removal of all bones; the scraping of the under surface of the skin so as to remove all fat; repeated soaking of the soft parts in hot water, and lager in water probably containing tannin, and drying by the frequent use of hot sand; the incision is then closed by sutures, and the physiognomy preserved by molding the face so that it retains the expression of a human; in other words the scalp is converted into a species of leather. No one knows why this process began, but it has been in existence for centuries. Accepted by the museum November 26, 19331940 cataloged vol. III p. 78

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