Hornbill Head Hunter's Head Dress

Llongot People, Luzon, Philippines

First Half of the 20th Century

Hornbill, Brass, Mother-of-Pearl, Wood and Woven Brow Band

Length 42 cm Height 32 cm (16.75 x 12.75 inches)

The head hunters head dress may only be worn after taking two human heads.

According to Robert McKinley, 1976 "Human and Proud of It! A Structural Treatment of Headhunting Rites and the Social Definition of Enemies" (Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University), the taking of heads is not solely about violence but "is part of a sophisticated mythology, ritual and cosmological worldview". The head would have belonged to a member of another group or village who, although they looked similar, was believed to be only semi-human so that the taking of the head would provide a link to the Gods and ancestors and the victim's spirit, through ritual purification, would become both an ally in the afterlife and also confer mystical benefits affecting fertility and agriculture. The prestige of taking a head conferred respect and also enabled a young man to marry.


Form and Splendor  Roberto Maramba 1998
Human and Proud of It Robert McKinley 1976

Enquiries to: leonora@peterpetrou.com
Please quote the above number

Previous Next