Ancestor skull decorated with seeds, feathers and shells, used by the Asmat (literally: "Men of the trees") as an ornament or headrest, in the belief that such objects offers the best protection against the dangers of both the visible and the invisible world.
This population lives in the southern region of Irian Jaya, in New Guinea. They were discovered by missionaries in 1953, when they were still practicing cannibalism and beheading. Today, they have almost abandoned such practices, even though their way of life has remained virtually unchanged. An expedition by the Ligabue Studies and Research Centre approached them in 1985.


  • Title: Decorated skull
  • Rights: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia Photo by MSNVE
  • Scientific name: Homo sapiens sapiens
  • Origin: New Guinea, Irian Jaya
  • Catalogue number: MSNVE-4127B

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