You're viewing this item in the new Europeana website. View this item in the original Europeana.

Escut i trofeu

Shield and trophy

Before the arrival of missions and colonisation, headhunting served to revitalise the Asmat communities. Although headhunts were acts of revenge for deaths inflicted by enemies, they were also essential to the initiation rituals of young men. Trophy heads were sometimes treated and decorated to dehumanise the victims and strike fear into those who were undertaking the initiation rituals.