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practice of taking and preserving the head of a slain enemy. It has occurred throughout the world from ancient times into the 20th cent. In Europe, it flourished in the Balkans until the early 20th cent. The practice often has magico-religious motives. Head-hunting tribes usually believe that there is soul matter concentrated in the head; taking the head of an enemy not only adds to the totality of soul matter in one's community, it also weakens the power of the enemy. As a particularly gruesome symbol of victory, such trophies may also intimidate enemies and potential enemies. In addition, heads are secured as tokens of courage and manhood. In many societies, young men are allowed to marry only after they have taken their first head, and for each trophy they may wear a distinctive feather or special tattoo. In some parts of the world, notably among the natives of North America, the scalp alone was taken (see scalpingscalping,
taking the scalp of an enemy. The custom, comparable to head-hunting, was formerly practiced in Europe and Asia (Herodotus describes its practice by the Scythians, for example), but it is generally associated with North American natives, although many such groups did
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), and the hair was often used in the making of amulets (see amuletamulet
, object or formula that credulity and superstition have endowed with the power of warding off harmful influences. The use of the amulet to avert danger and to dispel evil has been known in different religions and among diverse peoples.
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). Heads may be mummified in various ways, as in New Guinea, where both skull and skin are preserved, or among the Jívaro of South America, where the skin alone is preserved to produce a so-called shrunken head. An increase in head-hunting and concomitant warfare is often associated with the penetration of Westerners who like to buy and collect these trophies. See also cannibalismcannibalism
[Span. caníbal, referring to the Carib], eating of human flesh by other humans. The charge of cannibalism is a common insult, and it is likely that some alleged cannibal groups have merely been victims of popular fear and misrepresentation.
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See M. Harner, The Jivaro (1972).


1. the practice among certain peoples of removing the heads of slain enemies and preserving them as trophies
2. US slang the destruction or neutralization of political opponents
References in periodicals archive ?
Although this is a tough time for the recruitment industry as a whole, we believe our specialist skills and extensive knowledge of key industries enable us to find, through head-hunting, the shapers and drivers of businesses.
Construction Sacrifice and Head-Hunting Rumours in Central Flores (Eastern Indonesia): A Comparative Note.
That's the verdict of former Villa striker Andy Gray, who was responding to rumours that they are asking a head-hunting firm to recruit a football man to the boardroom.
Unnati Consultancy Services is a specialized service provider for dedicated head-hunting for unique staffing requirements for customer service teams through Top management decision making teams across Express, Freight, Banking & Financial, Engineering and Telecommunication Sectors.
They only distort the image of Islam by presenting it as a head-hunting creed," Hashem exclaimed, "while Imam Sadr rejected all divisions and ostracism between Muslims, resolving the crisis lies in setting up a patriotic and all-ingathering government," he concluded.
Role-playing opportunities that help its people handle a cross-section of functions, says Ashutosh Khanna, Partner at head-hunting firm Korn/Ferry International.
He added: "It was a case of them head-hunting me for Take Me Out.
We'll go through the necessary head-hunting and Brian's application will be there, but we all know and it is clear the job he does for Welsh football.
An apparently ill-fated head-hunting trip produced Glenn Deakin, who was missing in action after only two months on the job.
The entire process of head-hunting has,however,been criticised by trade unions.
NHS chiefs say they will be head-hunting top managers as candidates to shake up hospital services in Coventry.
Khazana is Amit's second business, the first - a financial services head-hunting firm - was established in 2003.