Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Spooky Than Ghosts

The reality shows in spite of their wide following are not among my favorites on TV.The extent to which people will go for money however is interesting.In reading an article the other day one part struck as more scarey than the Paranormal.

Ir seems that Ripley's Believe It Or Not with their long time popularity have opened several new Museums.Dividing out the collection of "Oddiities" among them has dwindled their supply.In the article was:
"...Consider shrunken heads. Every Ripley's museum must have one, and private collectors still covet them, but so far as experts can tell, no one is still making them. Mr. Meyer says that when he started working in acquisitions at Ripley's 31 years ago, the preserved human heads slightly larger than a fist could be bought for between $500 and $5,000.

"Today, you probably can't buy a fake one for $5,000," he says. A high-quality shrunken head -- one used for authentic tribal purposes, with long hair and decorative elements -- now costs about $50,000.

Outlawed for more than half a century now, ceremonial head shrinking was believed by its practitioners to trap the avenging spirit of a murdered adversary. After killing a foe, the Shuar tribe in a remote area of Ecuador took heads, skinned them, boiled the skin, sewed the skin back up, closed the mouth with wooden pegs, heated the head with rocks and sand, and then smoked it until it was cured. In the early 1900s, heads became currency to buy guns from Western visitors, increasing the practice. A case of head shrinking hasn't been documented for decades.

The heads are popular among a small group of avid collectors who are often willing to pay more than Ripley's.
"You could count the number of players on both hands in this country," says Jay Conrad, a retired roofing contractor in Lakeland, Tenn. He says he bought his first shrunken head in 1983 for $500 and has owned dozens over the years. "I'm interested in the dark side of human behavior," he says."

Wikipedia (source of the picture of a head on display)says
"To block the last spirit from using its powers, they decided to sever their enemies' heads and shrink them. The process also served as a way of warning those enemies. Even with these uses, the owner of the trophy did not keep it for long. Many heads were later used in religious ceremonies and feasts that celebrated the victories of the tribe. Accounts vary as to whether the heads would be discarded or stored. In the late 1800s and early 1900s whites traded shotguns for tsantsas,thus promoting an escalation in inter-tribal warfare.
Since the 1940s, it has been illegal to import shrunken heads into the United States. In 1999, the National Museum of the American Indian repatriated the authentic shrunken heads in its collection to Ecuador.[5] Most other countries have also banned the trade. Currently, replica shrunken heads are manufactured as curios for the tourist trade. These are made from leather and animal hides formed to resemble the originals. Replica shrunken heads, due to their provocative nature, are also popular in the hot rod culture, where they are often seen hanging from rearview mirrors as ornaments.[citation needed]"

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