November 15, 2009
The rare headshrinking footage from 1961 by Polish Explorer Edmundo Bielawski may be the real deal, says author and explorer Piers Gibbon. National Geographic
Head-shrinking was only practiced by one portion of the Amazon jungle-dwelling population- the Shuar. The Shuar people live in tropical rainforest between the upper mountains of the Andes, and the tropical rainforests and savannas of the Amazonian lowlands, in Ecuador extending to Peru.
“Headshrinking was a form of summary justice carried out on enemies. The shrinking process was deemed necessary to stop the victims evil spirit from seeking revenge.”
In this new documentary, Gibbon goes into the Amazon to find out if the 1962 footage is real and also describes the process of headshrinking with a re-creation:
“Firstly the back of the head would be opened. The skin is sliced free from the skull. Care is taken not to damage the facial features. The skull and remaining flesh is removed. The skin is then boiled in water for half an hour. Any longer and the hair may fall out. After being dried in the sun, the skin is turned inside out.
The process is repeated and can take up to six days, until the head is a quarter of its original size.”
The documentary, Search for the Amazon Headshrinkers, premieres on the National Geographic Channel this Sunday November 15th in the USA and will probably follow in other countries, you can watch some of the video below or you can visit National Geographic Rare Headshrinking Footage
Warning: Video contains graphic images.© 2009 National Geographic; Video from Nat Geo Channel
You may not be able to view the video below due to your country copyright restrictions, however you can also watch it here National Geographic Rare Headshrinking Footage