Aboriginal peoples on Borneo Island, generically described as “Dayaks”, were habitual headhunters, taking and then preserving the skulls of their victims. It was believed the head contained a “life force” that could be harnessed for the benefit of the head-taker’s community.
Newly taken heads provided communal protection, insured bountiful harvests, and cured disease. Heads were needed to honor the funerary rites of village aristocrats and to pay blood debts. For young men, taking heads showed their prowess, bravery, and ability to provide for and protect the family, village, and tribal territory, thus increasing their status and marriage eligibility.