Head hunter's basket, India, 1851-1920

Made:
1851-1920 in Assam
maker:
Naga people

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Head hunter's basket decorated with raffia fringing, tassel of coloured hair and monkey skull, from Naga people of Assam, Indian, 1851-1920

This woven basket was made by the Naga people of North East India. It is described as a head hunter’s basket and is decorated with raffia fringing, a tassel of coloured hair and a monkey’s skull. The Naga used head hunting – the gathering of human heads – to defend themselves against enemies. They also believed taking heads was a fertility rite which could ensure the continuity of their people. The successful warrior brought the heads home in baskets like this to prove his valour. It also made him attractive to the women of his tribe.

However, there is also the possibility that this basket was made as a rather exotic souvenir for tourists visiting India at the turn of the 19th century.

Related people

Details

Category:
Asian Medicine
Object Number:
A232811
Materials:
bone, cane, complete, hair, raffia
Measurements:
base: 170 mm x 60 mm,
top: 187 mm,
type:
basket
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
credit:
Glendining
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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