Dayak Headhunter Human Trophee Skull ‘Ndaokus’ with Tusks – Borneo, Indonesia


SKU: OC-043 Categories: , ,


Dayak. Early 20th Century Borneo, Indonesia. An impressive human skull without lower jaw, carved with incised ornamental and floral motifs, minor damages, and missing parts (teeth). It has a rattan string on top and is decorated with baribusa boar tusks – also called deer-pigs because of the prominent upwards incurving canine tusks of the males – attached to the upper palate wrapped with plant fibre for support, conveying a commanding presence. 

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. The skulls of enemies who had been killed were kept in the central mens’ house as trophies, as proof of the bravery and skill of the warrior, proudly displayed and decorated. ‘Ndaokus’ skulls generally lack a lower jaw. This is because the jaw bone was removed and given to the women as a pendant for their necklaces – as a final, humiliating insult toward the defeated enemy.

Cannibalism, tribal warfare, and rebirth rituals were regularly practiced up until the mid twentieth 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.

For more information see Headhunters and Woodcarvers, from the Francois Coppens Collection, Arnhem 2000, p. 67, ill. 66
Provenance: Private European Collection

Dimensions: 9.75″ D x 5.5″ W x 6″ H

Additional information

Weight 1.33 lbs


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