Ancestor Skulls

I felt that my design needed an extra level of research/concept. Based on some of the research I have already done, I found some information about the ways that certain tribes honour their dead.
THE DAYAK, IFUGAO, AND NAGA HUMAN SKULLS ARE HEAD HUNTING TROPHIES. THE
 ASMAT, VANUATU, AND PALAWAN HUMAN SKULLS ARE CONSIDERED “ANCESTOR”
SKULLS. THE DIFFERENCE
IS; HEAD HUNTING SKULLS ARE ACQUIRED FROM ENEMY
VICTIMS WHILE
ANCESTOR SKULLS ARE COLLECTED AND VENERATED TO REMEMBER”
DECEASED FAMILY MEMBERS. THE IFUGAO ALSO COLLECT BONES OF DEAD RELATIVES,
WRAP THEM IN TRIBAL TEXTILES, AND STORE THEM IN THE RAFTERS UNDER THEIR
HUTS. HUMAN SKULLS AND SKULL CAPS FROM NEPAL ARE RITUAL OFFERTORY
VESSELS THAT ARE USED AS DRINKING CUPS IN TIBETAN BUDDHIST CEREMONIES.
SEVERAL CULTURES HONOR HUMAN SKULLS IN A VARIETY OF WAYS, BUT THEY ALL
CONSIDER HUMAN SKULLS VALUABLE ENTITIES THAT ARE
WORTHY OF PRESERVED COLLECTIONS BUT HUMAN SKULLS,
IN SOME CASES, HAVE BECOME A TRIBE’S PREOCCUPATION!” (Tribal Art Asia)
“The Asmat Tribe, from Irian Jaya Indonesia, collect and worship ancestor skulls to remember their deceased family members. The tribes all decorate the skulls differently, in this case the Asmat Tribe use feathers, seeds and carved sea shell rings to decorate their skulls.” (Skull Appreciation Society)
The Dayak, Ifugao and Naga human skulls are headhunter’s trophies. The Asmat, Vanuatu and Palawan human skulls are considered “Ancestor” skulls. The difference is; head hunted skulls are acquired from enemy victims. Ancestor skulls are collected and venerated to remember deceased family members. The Ifugao collect bones of dead relatives wrap them in tribal textures and store them in the rafters under their huts. Human skulls and skull caps from Nepal are ritual offertory vessels that are used as drinking cups in Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies. Several cultures honor human skulls in a variety of ways, but they all consider human skulls valuable entities that are worthy of preserved collections but human skulls in some cases have become a tribes preoccupation.(Museum Oddities)
“Today, about 70,000 Asmat inhabit the area. Despite their horrific preceding fame, these people developed a refined art and are skilled wood carvers, drawing the inspiration from their religion. The most famous are the Asmat totemic poles, made of human figures and bodies which lean and continue each other, in an endless “chain of life”.
Asmat live in a land of mud and mangroves; the presence of so many water flows and canals forced the Asmat people to build palafitos, houses raised on posts and connected to each other via bridges and gangways. In fact, the configuration of the water covered surface in the area constantly changes.
Beyond the mangrove forest, forming a barrier against the sea waters, the muddy beach can stretch for kilometers. In this environment, the Asmat world configured the presence of spirits, invisible for the Whites, but visible for them. The Asmat give these spirits a carved shape. The spirits can be friendly or evil, intervening during the tribal conflicts.” (Softpedia)
“The Asmat, once a very belligerent people on the south-eastern coast of New Guinea, had a distinctive skull cult. The skulls of important and honoured ancestors would be decorated (like the present example) and kept within the clan, to be venerated and publicly presented during special ceremonies. Occasionally these skulls were also used as a pillow for sleeping or as a neck rest by the ‘reigning’ family head. These skulls were called ‘ndambirkus’.
The eye sockets and nasal cavity are lined with beeswax, with red and light grey seed capsules pressed in as decorations. The red pods are so-called ‘abrus beans’ (abrus pecatorius), while the grey are ‘tears of Job’ (coix lacryma jobi). The lower jaw is attached to the skull with rattan wickerwork. The nose has a large nasal ornament called a ‘bipane’, just like the ones Asmat warriors usually wear through their pierced septums. This ‘bipane’ consists of a seashell, divided into two parts, with the ends curved inward into spirals and connected with cord. Round rings of rattan wickerwork hang from the left and right cheekbones, with pendants of Job’s tears and feather tassels as purely ornamental elements. A carefully braided decorative cord headband spans the entire top of the skullcap from cheekbone to cheekbone. It is studded with a row of interwoven Job’s tears, with the rear decorated with a wreath of white feathers.” (Dorotheum)

 

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