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Head-Hunting

HEAD-HUNTING, or HEAD-SNAPPING, as the Dutch call it, a custom once prevalent among all Malay races and surviving even to-day among the Dyaks (q.v.) of Borneo and elsewhere. Martin de Rada, provincial of the Augustinians, reported its existence in Luzon (Philippine Islands) as early as 1577. The practice is believed to have had its origin in religious motives, the worship of skulls being universal among the Malays. Severe repressive measures have Jed to its decrease. Among the Igorrotes all that remains is the dance, accompanied by singing, around the bare pole on which the head was formerly fixed. With the Ilongotes a bridegroom must bring his bride a number of heads, those of Christians being preferred. The chief examples of head-hunters are the Was, a hill-tribe on the north-eastern frontier of India, and the Nagas and Kukis of Assam.

See Bock, Headhunters of Borneo (1881); W. H. Furness, Home Life of Borneo Head-hunters (Philadelphia, 1902); T. C. Hodson, " Head-hunting in Assam," in Folk-Lore, xx, 2. 132.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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