Very old and rare human skull, the brain pan lavishly and nicely decorated with stylized dragon motif symmetrically carved on both sides. The skull is of dark-brown color, having been exposed to smoke for a long time. Indonesia, Kalimantan, Dayak Peoples, early 19th century, maybe earlier. Dimensions: height: 5 1/2" (14 cm), length: 7" (17,7 cm), width: 5" (12,5 cm). Lower jaw and several teeth missing, otherwise very good condition. An exceptional object of highly ethnographic interest. Provenance: old European collection. NOTE: headhunting was practiced in the past by a few sub-groups of the Dayak Peoples, i.e. the Iban, Kayan or Kenyah. This took place during war expeditions in which heads as well as slaves were taken. The head, considered as the most important part of the body, was considered as a symbol of fertility, also used as offering to the gods, securing as such a good afterlife. Severed heads were either boiled and skinned or smoked, or the skulls were decorated with engraved patterns or with pigments, or even remodeled with wood, resin and cowries. It seems that the Iban abandoned headhunting earlier than the Dayak, presumably because as coast dwellers they got into contact with European cultures much earlier. In the 19th century headhunting was prohibited by the European colonial powers.