Head shrinking has been the subject of legend, jokes and old Looney Tunes sight gags for ages, but the practice couldn’t actually be real, could it?
Head shrinking was in fact a real thing, practiced mainly by tribes located around the Amazon River basin. For those looking to throw the perfect head shrinking party, here’s the recipe:
Make a cut on the back of the head, then painstakingly peel all the skin and flesh from the skull. Sew the eyes and mouth shut, then boil the flesh up good, dry it with hot rocks, then mold it back into a head-like shape. Viola! A handy miniature version of the guy you nailed with that arrow last week! While head shrinking was real, it was quite rare even amongst the tribes that practiced it, that is until collecting shrunken heads became the Pogs of the late 19th century. The shrunken head trade actually became big business, with numerous South American and Polynesian tribes (most of whom never shrunk heads in the first place) going to war with one another just to collect heads.
In a tactic that was amazingly dickish… when it came to dealing with natives, traders would give the tribes guns in exchange for the shrunken heads, ensuring a steady supply of new product.
The sale of shrunken heads continued in the United States for years until it was finally officially outlawed sometime in the 1940s. Yes, as late as the 40’s people still thought it was cool to trade them. By the way, wondering what price was put on a human life back then? How about 25 bucks a pop!!?!!