Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum is a unique Branson attraction where you can see a huge display of artifacts, trivia, unusual collections, incredible and odd things, and amazing collection of shrunken heads. Popularly known as the live musical capital of the world, Branson is truly one-of-a-kind family vacation destination in the Ozarks region as it features more than 50 live performance theaters, dozens of attractions and museums, and a full range of shopping and dining options.
The tour at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum is self-guided which allows you to walk through at your own pace. This amazing Branson attraction houses more than 100 genuine shrunken human heads. Robert Ripley, the founder of the museum acquired his first genuine human shrunken head in Lima, Peru in 1923. A preserved human head is always on display in every Ripley’s museum which has the size of a human fist.
For those who want to learn the bizarre facts of this unusual display, a shrunken head is a decapitated human head that is shrunk through a cooking process by the members of the tribes in Jivaro in the northwestern region of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador and Peru. These tribal members believed that the beheaded enemy had the existence of a vengeful spirit called muisak, that inhabited the human body. To block this muisak from the murdered enemy into using its powers, and to gain control over the soul of the victim, the headhunters cut their enemies’ heads and shrank them, calling them tsantsas. The beheading of an enemy is shown to ancestors so they will know that the warrior had successfully fulfilled the obligation in taking a blood revenge to his lineage.
The shrinking process of the head takes approximately one hour and a half to two hours in a large boiling pot. Once the head reached the desired size, the skin is rubbed with charcoal ash to darken it. The finished product is hung over a fire to harden and blacken it. The last step to do is to make a hole in the top of the head and insert string so it could be worn around the warrior’s neck as a trophy. It will then be presented to other villagers as a sign of victory where they celebrate a series of feasts and rituals.
Despite the amount of preparation of head shrinking, it is often discarded following the final celebration. But as the fascinated tourists and collectors discovered it, the tribes began to trade them instead of destroying them. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many westerners began buying up shrunken heads causing the tribes to increase their beheading of enemies in order to supply it for trade with knives or guns. The governments of Peru and Ecuador outlawed the trafficking of shrunken heads in the 1930s to discourage beheading for this purpose.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum is an amazing Branson attraction where you can see a huge display of artifacts including an unusual collection of shrunken heads.
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