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The practice of human trophy collecting is a cultural aspect which involves the acquisition of human remains, or in rare cases separated portions of living humans, for cultural purposes. The intent may be to demonstrate dominance over the deceased, such as scalp-taking or forming necklaces of human ears or teeth, or to commemorate the deceased, such as the veneration of the relics of saints.

Trophies of dominance

  • Groups such as the Scythians collected the skulls of the vanquished to make a skull cup
  • Headhunting has been practiced across the Americas, Europe, Asian, and Oceania for milleniae. The practice continued up until the 20th Century in the Balkans, and occurred on a smaller scale during World War II and the Vietnam War.

Trophies of commemoration

  • The Aghori Hindu sect in India collects human remains which have been consecrated to the Ganges river, making skull cups, or using the corpses as meditation tools.
  • Tibetan Buddhists employ the kangling, a trumpet made from a human thighbone
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