Home Latest News “Decolonization”: Museum removes shrunken heads in Latin America

“Decolonization”: Museum removes shrunken heads in Latin America


The Pitt Rivers Museum, based by the University of Oxford to show archaeological, anthropological and ethnographic collections, has determined to take away from its exhibition the tsantsas, lowered heads made by the Shuar, an Amazonian group scattered all through Ecuador and Peru.

The museum, which can reopen to the general public on September 22, introduced in an announcement who for its “sophisticated colonial historical past” reviewed his complete assortment from an moral viewpoint, and this summer season eliminated 120 human stays from the exhibition, together with the tsantas of South America, the trophy heads of the Naga tribes and an Egyptian mummy of a kid.

“The implementation of the revision is a part of the museum’s strategic plan to make its public areas extra in step with its modern ethic of actively working with communities and respecting other ways of being whereas turning into a welcoming house for all.” stated the museum’s director, Laura van Broekhoven.

Van Broekhoven defined that guests “typically understand the reveals of human stays within the museum as a testomony that different cultures are ‘wild’, ‘primitive’ or ‘horrifying'”, and as an alternative of serving to the general public to know with a In larger depth, different methods of being, the reveals “strengthened racist and stereotyped considering that goes towards the values ​​of the museum right this moment.”

What have been the tsantsas?

The shrunken heads of the slain enemies have been a warfare trophy loaded with supposed supernatural powers. The Shuar believed that on this approach they trapped the enemy’s soul and prevented the spirit of the deceased from taking revenge, and along with utilizing the tsantsas as a talisman or amulet with the soul that they may management, additionally they obtained fame and honor.

The making of the tsantsas was complicated. The enemy’s head was lower off and a lower was made within the again to take away the pores and skin from the cranium and scalp. The pores and skin is then positioned in boiling water to wash it, and a hoop is sewn with chambira fiber that’s tied to the neck opening. Next, inside the pinnacle they positioned sizzling stones to wash it from the within, and sizzling sand to form the face.

This process was repeated a number of occasions and entailed the discount of the scale of the pinnacle, which was lastly smoked over the hearth, which hardened it and gave it a darkish shade. The lips have been pierced by chonta rods and cotton fibers have been wrapped round them. With his head dyed black and his lips pierced, the enemy might neither see nor exit. What was fastidiously preserved was the lengthy hair of the deceased, since his energy resides there, based on historic beliefs.

The museum acquired its assortment of tsantsas between 1884 and 1936, and since 2017 it has been working with the San Francisco de Quito University (USFQ) to debate with the Shuar representatives how they need to be represented within the museum and the way it’s higher to maintain their cultural heritage. that’s in your possession.

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