The New Head Hunters

For more than a thousand years their unblinking eyes have watched over the tribes that live along Papua New Guinea's vast rivers. Hacked from the necks of enemies or retrieved from the graves of ancestors, the skulls were a central part of tribal culture. No youth could call himself a man until he had defeated an enemy warrior in battle, beheaded the corpse with a cassowary-bone dagger, and displayed the head on his clan's wooden slit drum. And few family houses were complete without the skull of an ancestor, decorated with clay features, shell eyes and real hair to create a...

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