Created by the same people that made the
shrunken head that hung from Johnny Depp's belt
in Pirate's of the Caribbean, these heads are truly
These "tsantsa" or human shrunken head,
are made in Ecuador by indigenous artisans,
crafted from animal skin using traditional
methods, and comparing in quality
the original tsantsa shrunken heads of
the Jivaro tribes.
The Jivaro are a South American tribe of
people who live on the eastern slopes of
the Andes Mountain Chain in Northern
Peru and Southeastern Ecuador, north of
the Marandon River. The Jivaro (from the
Spanish Jibaro) call themselves "Shuara,"
and are in 5 related groups which include:
The Jivaro proper, the Antipa, the Achual,
the Huambiza and the Aguaruna. The
Jivaro are hunter-gatherers, supplemented
by some tropical forest agriculture. They
are a warlike people, and there is a lot of
feuding among the different tribes. The
weapons of the Jivaros include blowguns
with poisoned darts.
When a person from an opposing group is
murdered, the killer must go through an
elaborate ceremony to protect himself from
being haunted by the dead man’s spirit.
The victims are always male, and the
murder may be for revenge or for fear.
After the killing, the warrior is temporarily
ostracized from the tribe, and a skeleton is
painted on the outside of his body. He is
kept away from his tribe for a period of
time until he is considered to be purified.
When the warrior is going through the
purification process, the head of his victim
is put through its own process of becoming
a "shrunken head."
First, the Jivaros cut the head off the
corpse. Then, after some incisions, the
skull is removed through its neck. The skin
of the face, scalp and head is then dipped
into boiling water three separate times.
This is part of the ritual process. After the
dipping is completed, the skin of the head
is put into a pot to boil. It is said that the
liquid the head is boiled in is from the
juice of the "huito" plant. Modern
anthropologists do not know what the huito
plant is, as the Jivaros keep it a secret.
After the boiling process, the head is put
on top of a spear, which is stuck in the
ground, to dry overnight. The next day, the
ears are removed and the mouth and
eyelids are sewn closed.