“At the Field Museum, I saw two shrunken heads that were kept on display. They were wrinkled but well preserved, each the size of my palm, their eyes and mouths sewn shut, just as I would have expected. They appeared to be of European extraction: The man had a small goatee, like a conquistador; the female had flowing red hair. I stared at them for a long time (until my mother pulled me away), feeling – with the morbid glee of a young boy – as if I had stumbled upon some sort of cosmic joke.”
B. Obama, Dreams from my Father
The Jivaros of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian rainforest were the only South American tribe not conquered by the Spanish or the Incas. Of course they are historically known as the warrior tribe that shrunk heads. Remember the George Pal flick The Naked Jungle, starring Charlton Heston battling marabunta ants? We see a shrunken head in that film.
Shrunken heads historically existed. There used to be a collection at Chicago’s Field Museum, but they were pulled. Gruesome stuff. I loved going to that museum —mummies, shrunken heads, the lions that ate people, bones and fossils. Shrunken heads are now considered illegal to possess. A few year’s ago I saw one for sale at an antique store. I’m fairly convinced it was made out of sawdust, goat skin and hair, but maybe I’m wrong.
Here’s a few links on the matter.