Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"True" History Tuesday - Head Shrinkers Invented the Raisin

The ancient practice of head shrinking, known as tsantsa, has fascinated people for years…especially people with unusually large heads.  Tsantsa is practiced by the Jivoroan peoples of Ecuador and Peru.  The shrunken heads are used for trade, ritual practices, as trophies and as tchotchkes to compliment a priceless Precious Moments figurine collection.  Most people have come to accept that these tribes of the Amazon Rain Forest will shrink your head, but nobody can understand their love of the Precious Moments figurines.  In several tribe elders this has resulted in an unhealthy addiction to Ebay.

The process of shrinking a head is a nasty business, which in many cases involves decapitation of the victim.  There are those rare cases where the head remains unsevered and the victim suffers years of anguish due to not being able to find a proper fitting hat or head dress.  We will not discuss those tragic circumstances here.  The heads are shrunken using red seeds in the eyes and mouth.  The flesh is boiled in various herbs and tannins and then the head is dried over hot rocks and sand.  Figuring out how to properly shrink a head was a long, drawn out process.  Mistakes were naturally made along the way.  Heads were messed up.  We will not discuss those tragic circumstances here. 

The trial and error (heavy emphasis on error) process of finding out the best way to shrink a head had to change.  The Jivoroan people needed to practice on something other than lost Amazon Rain Forest explorers.  Mostly because there just weren’t enough lost explorers.  Apparently, word of getting your head shrunk had leaked out to the surrounding areas and explorers were taking heed.  Finally, a member of the tribe named, Littleheadtellbigheadwhat-todo, suggested practicing on something other than actual human heads.  The tribe pondered and scratched their normal sized-heads.  Littleheadtellbigheadwhat-todo paced around the tribal fire and ate grapes.  Chewing on the grapes, he thought and thought about what to shrink.   “Bingo!” He yelled.  Everyone looked at him perplexed.  Just so they knew what he said, he spelled it out, “B-I-N-G-O!”  They all nodded, because now they knew he had thought of something.  “We will dry and shrink grapes!”  His wife, Sun-Made, ran up and hugged him for his brilliance.  The tribe began practicing on grapes and, other than the dancing raisin debacle, this helped them to perfect the fine art of head shrinking.  They also made money by selling the dried grapes and were able to buy more Precious Moments figurines. 

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