Rare archival footage demonstrates the process of shrinking a human head. The Shuar engaged in this practice to render their victims powerless to take revenge.
* First, the back of the head is opened and the skin is sliced free from the skull. Care is taken not to damage the facial features. While the skull and remaining flesh are discarded, the skin is boiled in water for half an hour (any longer and the hair may fall out).
* After being dried in the sun, the skin is turned inside out and any unwanted tissue is scraped off. The skin is formed into a sack shape and hot stones are used to burn off the fat inside.
* Hot sand is added to reach the fat in hard-to-get-to places, such as the nose and lips. The head-taker massages the skin to help the drying process and produce the head shape once again.
* The process is repeated and can take up to six days, until the head is a quarter of its original size.
* The warrior must now make sure there is no revenge attack from the dead man’s soul: Eyes are sewn shut, preventing the victim’s spirit from seeing out, and wooden pins are placed through the lips and lashed together with string. This stops the soul from asking for the death to be avenged.
* The warrior is now safe, while the soul within will remain in the abyss.