6 Jun / 2017

Mementos of You: Human Trophies

Mementos of You

Plaster cast of mokomokai (Indigenous to New Zealand); a photo of an actual head will not be shared on Horrific History out of the desire to be sensitive to the Maori.

After your death, what do you think your survivors (friendly or foe) might keep to remember you? Perhaps a photo or some inanimate object which carried a lot of meaning to you both? Or do you think they might want something more personal, like a lock of hair or your ashes? It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? But what if they wanted to keep your rotting skin, your head or even just your re-purposed skull or bones? Eric Slyter and Curtis Bender hunt for the gruesome details on various kinds of human trophies in history beginning with the Scythians, Norse Vikings, and Aztec festivities honoring Xipe Totec (Our Lord the Flayed One) before ending with Maori mokomokai.


Skull cups, garments made of rotting skin and heads with carved tattoos, this episode has all the gory details you’d expect from humanity’s horrific history! We’ll be exploring human trophies in history as they’ve been used for dominance, commemoration, veneration, desecration, body snatching and grave robbing! Just remember: no squeam allowed!


Xipe Totec’s finery presented in the Codex Tudela

So sit down to drink from the head of your worst enemy (or most beloved family member) and join us through one of your favorite podcast services (iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and more) as we delve into this Horrific History episode; come back again in two weeks to learn about bad dads in history (just in time for Fathers’ Day)!


Some of our favorite resources from this week’s episode (you can find more in our Store!):


Horrific History Podcast

Commercial break music by Dead but Dreaming.

Slideshow photo credit: Photograph: Derek Adams/Natural History Museum

Blog Photo credit: Warrington Borough Council

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