Anthropology 1010: Assignment 1
The Asmat, Headhunters, people are located in New Guinea’s West Iran. These people actually cut off people heads and eat their brains and wear their jaws as a necklace. People’s brains are not their main source of food. The major food of these people is the starch of the sago palm that they roast. The sago palm is found deep into the swamps. You take an ax and split the palm in to two pieces. The food inside is called sago grub. The sago grub is soft white larva of the Capricorn beetle. They put it on a stick and roast it in the fire.
The Asmat villages are always located by water and the houses are raised on poles above the mud. When high tide comes, so does the seafood, such as shellfish. When high tide leaves the seafood stays and they grub on that. Other forms of food are lizards, pigs, and cassowaries, which are wild flightless birds that are almost as big as ostriches.
Neighboring villages get together and have a ritual where they literally adopt others from the neighboring tribes. The adults pretend to be children and suckle to their newly acquired mom. The adults also teach the children their roles and responsibilities. The boys learn their roles as hunters and the women learn their roles as fisherman. Women also gather most of the food and do the cooking, while the men stand by and watch and protect the women. Some men even stay at home and just talk.
The women really seemed to be the bosses and called all of the shots. The men may be headhunters, but it is the women that have most of the responsibility and ultimately the power.
Kirk Malcolm S “Headhunters in Today’s World” National Geographic, Jan-June 1972 pgs.389-408.