Southeast Asia, northern Philippines, Ifugao province, ca. 19th century CE. A fascinating artifact from the native people of the island of Ifugao, who prior to contact with the western world - which mainly occurred during the American occupation of the island during WWII - practiced traditional headhunting. This is a trophy human skull mounted on a boar skull, lashed together using rattan. The boar skull is attached to a wooden platform for display in ceremonies and on buildings. Water-based pigments are on the human skull, most notably in a thick border around the eye sockets, and the chin has been drilled through in two places. Size: 14" W x 10.8" H (35.6 cm x 27.4 cm)
Headhunting - taking a skull and preserving it after killing someone - was practiced around the world throughout history, from Oceania to Europe and Mesoamerica. Anthropologists became intensely interested in the practice, especially in the early to mid 20th century, and developed a general theory about the meaning of headhunting: to define hierarchy and power within communities, based on the idea that the head contained the life force of the individual, and that capturing it allowed its holder to contain that power. For the Ifugao, the taken head was a prized object. The Ifugao mounted heads like this one over their hearths and outside their huts.
See David Howard, "The Last Filipino Head Hunters", 2001, p. 35.
Provenance: private San Francisco, California, USA collection
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Both skulls have been modified for display with some painting, drilling, removal of small components. The lower jaw of the boar has been deliberately excluded. Rich patina on all surfaces. Rattan is in nice condition for its age and the skull is secure in its position.