Feline Press

Books and Photos by Dr. James L. Castner
(352) 495-9949 jlcastner@aol.com
P.O. Box 357219 • Gainesville, FL 32635

Shrunken HeadsShrunken Heads - Tsantsa Trophies and Human Exotica

Shrunken heads are ceremonial artifacts that were produced by the Jivaroan Indian cultures of Ecuador and Peru. Their creation and existence fascinates some, repulses others, but intrigues almost everyone. They are human heads reduced to the approximate size of a fist for ceremonial and cultural purposes. This reduction process is described step by step, as is its significance.

This book accomplishes several objectives in five chapters. First, it discusses the Shuar (Jívaro) culture and explains the cultural significance behind taking and shrinking heads. Second, it methodically explains how to differentiate between an authentic tsantsa (a head shrunk by the Jívaro and used ceremonially) and non-ceremonial human heads fabricated by others for sale to collectors and curiosity seekers. Third, it discusses how shrunken heads have been portrayed and viewed in Western cultures past and present. Finally, it presents full-page portraits of more than 40 shrunken heads in the last chapter. An extensive bibliography allows readers to locate pertinent literature and original accounts or reports.

Dr. James L. Castner has made over fifty trips to the Amazon Basin. His research for this book included speaking with museum curators, private collectors, and visiting representatives of the Shuar tribe in Ecuador.  Dr. Robert Carneiro, the Curator for South American Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History says: "A meticulous and exhaustive study of the fascinating Jívaro practice of head shrinking. At one stroke, the book establishes itself as the standard reference work on the subject, to be read with care and attention by anyone interested in tsantsas."

Price: $75 To Buy
5-9 copies, 20% discount
10-19 copies, 30% discount
20 copies or more, 40% discount
ISBN: 0-9625150-3-5. Publisher: Feline Press. Author: James L. Castner
160 pages. Photos: 160 color, 23 B&W. 8.5 x 11 inches.
Perfect-bound (hardcover only).