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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 ?
The headhunter must know the industry and understand how to assess the culture and how complex decisions are made.
Headhunters are not in the business of finding you a job.
Sarah Shirley-Priest is executive search and selection consultant at Alvechurch-based headhunters Kingston & Company.
Provus, one of the country's top headhunters, specializes in human resources, sales, marketing and public relations.
Headhunters tell us that outstanding candidates have missed out on jobs they longed for because the prospective management was disappointed by their references even though the situation was fully explained.
The range of skills required has become increasingly complex, and this in turn has presented headhunters in this marketplace with fresh and interesting challenges to find candidates who fit the bill.
Apart from these major areas of agreement, it also appears (based upon the Duncan Multiple Range tests) that practitioners and educators share more similar views regarding the importance of the business skills and logistics skills than is true for the headhunter group.
Most of the headhunters who work with physician executives know that their relationship with candidates needs to be based on trust and open communications or they will not survive in the long haul.
The first step to take if you want to be approached is to make sure that a headhunter can see your 'star' shine.
While for the salesperson an approach from a headhunter is always immensely flattering, and such a call is a great boost to the morale, you should be careful not to allow the call to distort your sense of perspective.
Nailz and HeadHunter Radio with Cecelia Gonzalez about the growing trend in Corporate America of using Video Interviewing in the hiring process.