Category Archives: Anthropology

Shrunken Heads at Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

This is one of my very favourite museums in the world.

Partly, just for the idiosyncratic way  it was grown.

And partly just for the sheer amount of weird shit they have exhibited.

English explorers collected shrunken heads because they saw them as exotic curiosities. The tsantsas in the Pitt Rivers Museum were collected between 1871 and 1936. Due to the demand for shrunken heads by museums and private collectors many counterfeits were made. These were most often produced from animals such as monkey or goat heads, but some were made from unclaimed bodies in morgues and hospitals. More here…

They were for a while under debate as to whether they should stay:

Dr Michael O’Hanlon, the museum’s director, said: “The whole issue of human remains is, and has been widely debated in museums across the country.

“There are a range of legitimate perspectives people can take on this and, this being a university museum, we debate them. From Oxford Times

Thankfully, now, it looks as though they are safe to stay. They’ve been scaring and exciting kids in equal measure for years, and awakening the curiosity that often only the darker content is able to!