Dayak, early 20th century Borneo, Indonesia. Human skull with lower jaw, polished, incised ornamental and floral decorations, the lower jaw fixed by rattan, small missing parts (teeth), socle. In former times the Dayak people of Borneo, Indonesia were dreaded headhunters. In order to transition into manhood, young men would have to take the life of their enemy. By headhunting the young warrior proved his virility and was able to take possession of the killed enemy’s soul. A wide-spread motif for headhunting was the animistic belief, that the slained had to follow his murder in the hereafter as slave. The skulls of enemies who had been killed were kept in the central men’s house as trophies, as proof of the bravery and skill of the warrior, proudly displayed and decorated.
Cannibalism, tribal warfare, and rebirth rituals were regularly practiced up until the mid-20th century when such practices were made illegal. A wide-spread motif for headhunting was the animist belief, that the slain had to follow his murderer in the hereafter as a slave. Dayak cultures both amaze and scare people. They maintain the culture given down by their ancestors and up to date they are one of the few most feared tribes on earth.
Provenance Lionel Morley, Brussels, Belgium Hubert Eslampanah, Brussels, Belgium.