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That particular event is extremely well documented, and despite happening over 100 years ago, seems to be an occurrence that left quite an impression - and one that remains on the minds of missionaries and their ilk to some extent if the frequency of references to the incident are any indication.

However, what is probably the most well known incident of this sort in the greater Papuan region, was not directly related to missionary activities. I am referring of course to the disappearance in November, 1961 of Michael Rockefeller while on a collecting expedition for the Museum of Primitive Art (when the museum was closed in 1976 the bulk of the collection went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

There's a wonderful book on the subject, called On Aggression. The author's name has momentarily left the page that my brain is scanning - one of the interesting phenomena that occurs with age. I'm completely confident that I will recall it in a little while, so the memory trace isn't gone, it's just temporarily inaccessible.

How sexual choice shaped the development of human nature. He addresses the matter of art and its role in human development, so I imagine it would be of interest to many forms.

Boas was on to something, and Millerís ideas strike me as complimentary and mutually reinforcing. While Boas only mentions the personal creative satisfaction of the artisan him or herself, the idea that creative virtuosity could serve as an appeal to prospective mates, seems like a fairly reasonable extension of his conclusions on art motives? and one that could reinforce the artisans own pleasure in the aesthetically creative act.

A final comment or two on head hunting? for the majority of us who will read this discussion, I think it is safe to say that if this phenomenon is of interest at all, then at most we may possibly gain an intellectual understanding of why various societies might indulge in headhunting, but our own deeply ingrained cultural praxis will prevent us from ever looking at headhunting the way someone who is an autochthonous member of a headhunting society might.

I had several friends in various effected areas and they are all safely accounted for to my relief. But, sadly so many and so much has been lost, and while everyone I know directly has turned up safe, there are family and friends of friends who are missing, and at this point Iím afraid that hope of good news at this late date is fading.

Yes Steve P, Iíd agree with your final comments on animal behavior. It is a point well taken and indeed my choice of terminology was imprecise.

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?

This gradually resulted in the Homo sapien brain developing with these unique capacities that would foster creativity and the resultant sexual allure was on par, in terms of developmental importance, with those processes that are emblematic of natural selection responses to environmental factors such as geography, climate, predators, etc.

The lawful or unlawful context is socially determined and the implication is that while murder is always killing, killing is not always murder. This is in no way a revelation, but it seems few ever pause to consider it all.

Regarding other recent comments in this thread, my own interpretation of some of Udo remarks was that he may have meant to draw attention to this sort of cultural/moral disparity across cultures.

My aim in making the comment was actually just to provide an example that could give voice to other potential points of view, which is to say that of those who are more inclined to cite actor more instinctual urges, which might be construed as the impetus for headhunting activity in some cultures, and how I could see why people might reasonably draw that conclusion as well.

While the Chalmer incident left a powerful impression on the mind of missionaries, the Rockefeller incident is the one that tends to linger most in the thoughts of those of us who are interested in the art and culture of this area. This latter event happened in the Asmat region, which is West through the Torres Straight and up along the coast of West Papua (Indonesian side) in relation to Goaribari Island where the Gope board that started this thread originated.

In other words creativity and virtuosity whether it be story telling , song , drawing on cliff walls, carving and shaping wood, stone or bone, personal adornment, basket making or any such skill that affords aesthetic pleasure and reveals what could be deemed artistic prowess is in short, a urn on?

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.

Of course, people from outside headhunting cultures, that become the victims of headhunting will always have a degree of sensational interest attached to their stories just because of the relative novelty of the event.
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