Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Asmat trophy skull project 

What's that, you ask? It's an Asmat trophy skull in the De Young museum Pacific island collection. There are several tribes in the Pacific Rim that keep trophy skulls. Ancestor skulls to be exact. What's the project? Funny you should ask. 

As an anthropology student and field archaeologist this sort of thing fascinates me. Having seen these in museums from Hawaii to D.C. I've been keen to know about them and quietly thought it'd be cool to own one. That poses a problem here and there. Things like, "How did you convince your family to let you keep a human skull in the house?" Or "Wow that thing must have cost a fortune!" and the perennial, "Is that even legal?" are all valid concerns. 

So I decided I should just build one myself from a realistic skull replica, turkey feathers, raffia and other things similar to what Asmat skulls are adorned with. I mean, if the zoo wouldn't keep their cassowaries under such close watch, I'd surely use those feathers but ultimately I'm one of maybe half a dozen people I know globally (surely there are others?) who even know what one of these things is let alone what feathers it should have or even be able to tell the difference between cassowary and turkey feathers. 

So, with this cache of feathers gathered from our place in California, the project begins. Updates to follow. ...maybe there's an Asmat skull cottage industry waiting to emerge. 

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