Who practised headhunting accompanied by cannibalism, and why? Are we in danger even today?Location:
Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures, Betlémské nám. 1, Praha 1
The exhibition entitled Headhunters will show you the cultural diversity of New Guinea, the world’s largest tropical island. You will find out the reasons cannibalism was practised, and numerous widespread stereotypes and myths about the island’s culture will be explained.
At the beginning of the exhibition - rather surprisingly, perhaps – you will be confronted with the current products as well as the prevailing cultural diversity of the island.
Then you will be taken back to the wilder colonial past. Even as late as the 20th century, New Guinea was considered to be a land inhabited by peoples who had never encountered Europeans, and the discovery of so-far uncontacted groups may not be ruled out even today. After all, maps of the territory included extensive areas marked as “unexplored”. Colonisation provoked a strong response from the natives. The colonists were considered to be the returning dead, or immortal ghosts. In spite of this, the main form of defiance against colonisation was armed conflict. Thus, the exhibits include weapons and their use.
The penultimate section of the exhibition will take you to a New Guinean village, allowing you to discover their methods of growing crops, clothing garments, a wide range of body decorations, and kinds of dwelling. You will also find out why the natives chew betel. Traditional cultures and related rituals and religious beliefs form an inseparable part of the headhunters’ lives.
The final section of the exhibition is dedicated to journeys and explorations undertaken by Czech scientists, travellers, and artists. You will be introduced to the work of entomologists led by Prof. Vojtěch Novotný, works of art by Lukáš Rittstein and Barbora Šlapetová, and photographs by the singer Dan Bárta.
The exhibition presents unique exhibits, the majority of which have never been exhibited before, from the collections of the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures, accompanied by outstanding objects and photographs from the private collections of Czech travellers, scientists, and artists.