<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 29, Issue 1, March 2021



Rom J Leg Med29(1)81-90(2021)
DOI:10.4323/rjlm.2021.81
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine


A STUDY OF THE IDENTIFICATION AND AUTHENTICITY OF THREE TROPHY HEADS

L. A. A. Aybar, E. A. Pardo, A. M. Bernedo, T. F. Redondo, L. O. C. D. Moraes, J. R. M. Velasco


Abstract: Trophy heads are human heads that have been removed from the rest of the body at the time of death or later. They present varied elaborations, to a greater or lesser degree: Basically the skull can be preserved (skull trophy) or not (shrunken head). We present here a morphological study that allows us to study the authenticity and possible cultural background of three trophy-heads belonging to the Complutense University’s patrimony (Madrid, Spain) and rediscovered by serendipity. The aim/goal of this paper is twofold. First, study and identify of these trophy heads. Second, to assess their authenticity.
We conclude that two out of the three heads are shrunken heads, suggesting that their objective/goal was different and that can be clearly distinguished from the false or commercial shrunken heads, that emerged mainly in the nineteenth century. Also, their morphological and ornamental characteristics indicate that one is authentic or ceremonial tsantsa and the other is commercial. The other head was a skull trophy with the ornamental decorative features compatible to a trophy head by the Mundurucu tribe.
Keywords: Anthropology, authenticity evaluation, ceremonial tsantsa, commercial shrunken head, ethnobotany.



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