House of Shrunken Heads
A Shrunken Head Museum!
Shrunken heads are popular display items in museums, school rooms, and shopping malls everywhere. Here are pictures of some tsantsa from various collections around the world.
From the Ripley's Believe It Or Not collection. Used for
many years to top the Christmas Tree at the Davenport County Courthouse,
this classic example of Jivaro head shrinking art was eventually purchased
for inclusion in the vast Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum collections.
Ecuadorian Shrunken Head. This
exquisite tsantsa was
recently sold by ArtAreas.com for $10,500.00. That's a lot of money
for a little head!
From the Chicago Natural History Museum. These heads were originally displayed in a classroom at the Davenport Elementary School, but had to be donated to the museum because children kept sticking chewing gum in their hair.
From Penn State
University. These shrunken heads can
in the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery, located in rooms
111-112 at Steidle Hall. Read an article about them in the Penn StateCollegian.
They were the original Penn State mascots, but the university eventually
replaced them with the Nitney Lions after over-zealous Penn State football
players began decapitating coaches of the teams they defeated.
From New York's American
Museum of Natural History.
This photo, like the next two below, was used as a postcard by the Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum during the 30's and 40's. Some of these original postcards are still available for sale. Click here for data. The photo shows how shrunken heads can be arranged
to make a beautiful mobile for home or office display, such as the one which now
graces the vestibule of the Davenport Family Counseling Center.
Mr. Ripley holds shrunken
head. Another old Ripley postcard
which helps give a sense of the size of the average Jivaro shrunken head.
Ripley's growing fascination with such Jivaro trophies culminated in the
creation of his unusual and popular ventriloquist's act.
A Third Ripley Postcard. Mr.
Ripley's investments usually
proved to be lucrative, but his joint venture with the Duncan Yoyo
Company was never very profitable.
From the Libby Prison War
Museum. The reason for displaying
this tsantsa with Lincoln assassination artifacts is unknown, but has inspired
Lincoln conspiracy theorists to surmise that the assassination was planned
by Vice President Johnson, who was skilled at hunting squirrels with a
blowgun and kept a shrunken head in a cigar box in his office.
From the South Florida Museum of Natural History/Graves Museum. Unlike the traditional Jivaro tsantsa, this shrunken head does not have its lips sewn shut. A photo of this little head once appeared on boxes of Kellogg's Frosted Flakes but was soon replaced by the better-known image of Tony the Tiger.
From the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum in Queensland, Australia. Used for many years as a hair-style display at the Miami Quick Scissors Hair Boutique, this impressively fluffed-and-blow-dried tsantsa eventually found a home down under in the ever-growing Ripley collection.
From the book Mummies,
by Georgess McHargue (Lippincott,
1972) p. 85. The museum in which these heads are displayed is not named in
the book. Note the elaborate decorations which adorn these two beautiful shrunken
heads. Their makers must have spent days combing and grooming them with the
same fastidiousness observed in little girls adorning their Barbie and Ken dolls!
Two heads from an unnamed museum north of Manchester, England.
At first mistakenly identified as The Captain and Tenniel, whose 70's mega hit "Muskrat Love" reportedly offended Jivaro tribesmen, these two heads are actually associated with the legend of Harrison Kelly-Jones, an explorer who fell in love with a Jivaro princess and was killed by the Jivaro Indians. Click on these heads to read the legend and view the gallery, which has some very nice tsantsas (although some of them are obviously fake.)
For a More
Serious Look At
Shrunken Heads, Be Sure To
Visit Our Two New Galleries
Head Gallery I
Shrunken Head Gallery II
Shrunken Head Gallery III
Head Gallery IV
Caveats, Apologies, Disclaimers
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