Human trophy collecting

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American sailor with the skull of a Japanese soldier during the Second World war.

The practice of human trophy collecting involves the acquisition of human remains. The intent may be to demonstrate dominance over the deceased, such as scalp-taking or forming necklaces of human ears or teeth, or to commemorate the deceased, such as the veneration of the relics of saints.[citation needed] It can be done to prove ones success in battle,[1] or to show off one's power to others.[2] Murderers' collection of their victims' body parts have also been described as a form of trophy-taking; the FBI draws a distinction between souvenirs and trophies in this regard.[3]

While older customs generally included the burial of human war trophies along with the collector, such items have been sold in modern times.[4]

Trophies of dominance[edit]

Headhunting[edit]

Headhunting has been practiced across the Americas, Europe, Asian, and Oceania for millennia.[4] One analysis of the practice in early North American societies linked it to social distance from the victim.[5]

  • For example, groups such as the Scythians collected the skulls of the vanquished to make a skull cup.[citation needed]
  • The practice continued up until the 20th century in the Balkans, and occurred on a smaller scale during World War II and the Vietnam War. About 60% of the bodies of Japanese soldiers recovered in the Mariana Islands and returned to Japan lacked skulls.[4]

Other body parts[edit]

Then this guy - one of the white guys - cut off the VC's dick and stuck it in his mouth as a reminder that the 1st Cavs had been through there. And he left an ace of spades on the body.

This happened all the time.

So did burnin' villages.

Lynching[edit]

In North America, it was common practice before, during or after the lynching of African-Americans for those involved to take souvenirs such as body parts, skin grafts, bones, etc.

Trophies of commemoration[edit]

Well, these white guys would sometimes take the dog-tag chain and fill that up with ears. For different reasons. They would take the ear off to make sure the VC was dead. And to confirm that they had a kill. And to put some notches on they guns. If we were movin' through the jungle, they'd just put the bloody ear on the chain and stick the ear in their pocket and keep on going. Wouldn't take time to dry it off. Then when we get back, they would nail 'em up on the walls to our hootch, you know, as a trophy. They was rotten and stinkin' after awhile, and finally we make 'em take 'em down.

Body-snatching[edit]

Body-snatching may sometimes be conducted in order to retain a body part as a trophy.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Academic American Encyclopedia 10, Grolier, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7172-2068-7, In some cultures head-hunting can be considered a manifestation of the widespread practice of removing parts of the body of a slain enemy — as in scalping or the severing of an ear or nose — for war trophies. 
  2. ^ "The head as trophy or cult object", Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics 6, 1913, p. 534, ISBN 978-0-543-97870-7 
  3. ^ Harold Schechter; David Everitt (4 July 2006). The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. Simon and Schuster. p. 290. ISBN 978-1-4165-2174-7. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Christine Quigley (13 October 2005). The Corpse: A History. McFarland. pp. 249–251. ISBN 978-0-7864-2449-8. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Richard J. Chacon; David H. Dye (2007). The taking and displaying of human body parts as trophies by Amerindians. Springer. pp. 32, 33. ISBN 978-0-387-48300-9. Retrieved 27 January 2011. 
  6. ^ Terry, Wallace (1984). Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans. Random House. p. 26. ISBN 0394530284.  (ISBN 978-0-394-53028-4)
  7. ^ Richard J. Chacon; David H. Dye (2007). The taking and displaying of human body parts as trophies by Amerindians. Springer. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-387-48300-9. 
  8. ^ Terry, Wallace (1984). Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans. Random House. p. 26. ISBN 0394530284.  (ISBN 978-0-394-53028-4)
  9. ^ Ellis, Bill (2000). Raising the devil: Satanism, new religions, and the media. University Press of Kentucky. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-8131-2170-3. Retrieved 2011-01-30. [...] a self-confessed robber came forward and admitted the body-snatching [...] leaving the body in the car [...] he took the head home and kept it on his matelpiece as a trophy of his visit [...]