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In some places headhunting definitively faded out long ago, in other parts of the world it was a practice that lingered as common place until the mid-20th century at least. I think it is fascinating how utterly repugnant such practices are to some societies, while conversely in others, they were not only condoned and encouraged but viewed as an absolutely essential component of community well being.

It's actually difficult to tell what is art. No one can deny that some sports are also art. Or people will argue some plays are art works of sports.

The cultural context is fascinating as well, and some of you will be aware that the Goaribari Islanders were notorious warriors. It is reported that Authorities were still confiscating skull trophies in the late 1950. Other infamous incidents have become very well known indeed. For instance the events of April, 1901 are legendary.

The sort of most dramatic of the other plausible scenarios is that he became the victim of Asmat headhunters and all that implies. If that was how it happened, the bitter irony naturally is that the young Rockefeller was passionate about the area and had a great interest and respect for a smart people and culture.

In any case, as you say, tales of headhunting and cannibalism can be quite jarring. The really astonishing part of it in my opinion however, is just how relatively common such practices were around the planet.

The possibility of drowning is also viewed as unlikely in the minds of many people, first because apparently Rockefeller was acknowledged as a very strong swimmer, and secondly because two local guides that had been on the boat when it capsized did successfully swim to shore, and many feel Rockefeller was certainly capable of doing the same.

Technologically developed areas", the socio-cultural outlook does seem to allow much of the populace to dissociate causing deaths in a war context from urder? This relativity of perception is noteworthy.

It was then that the famous missionary Rev. James Chalmers and a party of 12 lost their heads and were eaten by Goaribari headhunters. Another missionary reported witnessing over 10,000 skulls in the long houses of Goaribari.

Although there are a lot of great artists graduated from art schools. There are also a lot of great artists never go to any art schools.

I just like to add that in the seminal work, rimitive Art? By Boas, which was first published in 1927 I believe, Boas repeatedly cites the pleasure of virtuosity and the satisfaction of aesthetic creativity as one of the principal motivations for creating art.

That could be a complete projection on my part, but none the less I understand that it is difficult to address subtle and nuanced issues like this in a language that is not one own. I'll be hard pressed to utter a single simple sentence in German, and addressing issues of more depth like we are discussing here would be out of the question.

Staggering numbers of people are killing and being killed all the time, and television, radio, print and electronic media present these events nearly anywhere we look. More than what culture or time period the victim may be from, I think it is the presence or absence of the umanizing details?

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Last modified: Tuesday October 18, 2005.