The Dayak people are the native people of Borneo's rainforest. It is a loose term for over 200 riverine and hill-dwelling ethnic subgroups, located principally in the interior of Borneo aka Kalimantan, each with its own dialect, customs, laws, territory and culture, although common distinguishing traits are readily identifiable. The Dayak were animist in belief; however many converted to Islam and since the 19th century, there has been mass conversion to Christianity. In the past, the Dayak were feared for their ancient tradition of ngayau aka headhunting practices.
Headhunting is the practice of taking and preserving a person's head after killing the person. It was practised in historic times in many parts of Borneo/Kalimantan. As a practice, headhunting has been the subject of intense discussion within the anthropological community as to its possible social roles, functions, and motivations. Themes that arise in anthropological writings about headhunting include mortification of the rival, ritual violence, cosmological balance, the display of manhood, cannibalism, prestige, and as a means of securing the services of the victim as a slave in the afterlife. Some experts theorize that the practice stemmed from the belief that the head contained "soul matter" or life force, which could be harnessed through its capture...
Street portrait photographs from Borneo aka Kalimantan in Matt Hahnewald's
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