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Warfare in Asia

Hornbill carving

Asia 1977.As6.1

Help in head-hunting

From: Borneo, Pacific Ocean
Date: AD 1970s

A hundred years ago warriors in Borneo would head-hunt. This meant raiding nearby villages and returning with the heads of enemies as trophies. Because this was so dangerous, before the warriors went out they would ask for protection from the gods.

The Iban people used bright wooden carvings like this one when they asked the gods for their help. The carvings are called kenyalang and are based on the hornbill bird. Luckily head-hunting does not happen any more, but the Iban still make these fabulous kenyalang for their men who join the army. They are also sold to tourists.