one star per head

The Kenyah head hunters of Borneo didn’t like to have more than 30 heads hanging in their homes at any one time. When they moved house they took advantage of the upheaval to get rid of any surplus ones. These were placed in a specially built hut not far from the old house, but in case the spirits who surrounded those heads thought they were being abandoned, a fire of smouldering logs was kept burning.

Different tribes had different tattoo markings indicating their achievements.

Muruts – Men who have fought, or who have gone on risky expeditions (headhunting I presume) are tattooed from the shoulders to the pit of the stomach, and all down the arms three-parallel stripes to the waist.


Rundum Muruts – stars on the front of the shoulder, above the breast, are often seen… each star denoted a head having been taken. When the third had been taken, another star was placed on the throat; then the forearms and thighs were tattooed, but with no special design.


Kayans – A man is supposed to tattoo one finger only, if he has been present when an enemy has been killed, but tattoos hands and fingers if he has taken an enemy’s head.

For the Dayak of southern and western Borneo, tattoos and death were inextricably bound. When the soul left its human host, it journeyed through the murky depths of the afterlife in search of heaven. Dayak souls encountered many obstacles on their supernatural flight: The River of Death the most formidable. According to tradition, only the souls of tattooed women who provided generously for their families and headhunters who possessed hand tattoos – a token of their success – were able to cross the log bridge that spanned these dangerous waters.


Here is a description of the women’s tattoos written by William Henry Furness who travelled to Borneo early last century

“I was utterly amazed at their costume and rubbed my eyes to make sure I was not dreaming. The women who were descending to the river’s edge wore on their thighs and legs beautiful blue silk tricots or tights of an elaborate openwork pattern, and on their hands and arms delicate black silk mitts; I was not prepared for an elegant toilette in the jungle and my bewildered amazement continued until, on nearer inspection, I found that all the tracery I had mistaken for silken tights was tattooing.”

image by Mark Madden

Published in: on April 25, 2010 at 7:38 am  Comments (38)  
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quills or pig bristles tonight my dear?

Natives of Borneo and the Philippines will go to great lengths to attract lovers. After creating a channel through their penis glans, they decorate it with ingenious contrivances made from ivory or metal and often ending in brushes or tiny bristles.

The apparatus could be a round wheel with projecting points (like a spur held in place by a pin), stars, rings, fine twisted wire, pig bristles, bamboo shavings, seeds, horn, coral, agate, hornbill ivory, beads, broken glass and, in one case, an object that looked like a snake head. Quills, as well, were used as nonfunctional retainers. The early explanations from the Codex say the women insisted upon the piercings to discourage the men from sodomy.


image found here

On Borneo and Sulawesi, a splint is used to hold the penis for the actual piercing procedure. It varies in length from several inches to a foot, approximately a one-and-a-half inches thick with a hole in both sides. The slats are placed on either side of the penis and then tightly secured, flattening out the penis. After sufficient time has passed for the lack of blood and cold water to decrease sensation, the penis is pierced – sometimes, a pigeon’s feather anointed with oil would be inserted and taken out each day. The piercing takes about one month to heal.

penis adornment

“The lady had various ways of indicating the size of the ampallang desired. She might hide in her husbands plate of rice a betel leaf rolled about a cigarette, or with the fingers of her right hand placed between her teeth she will indicates the measure of the one she aspires. The Dayak women have a right to insist upon the ampallang and if the man does not consent they may seek separation. They say that the embrace without this contrivance is plain rice; with it is rice with salt.”

borneo women

In Japan, this site claims that having the foreskin constantly “decapped” or retracted, is part of the national character of the Japanese.

“Every Japanese entering maturity asks himself in the beginning why his glans is not completely free like that of other adults, and in this way arrives at an unfortunate suspicion of the naturalness of his own member”. He therefore shoves the foreskin back. “This operation is practiced by every one, but it is kept secret”. It is no custom “but an almost universal and quite secret usage”, which is “dictated by that shame of kawakamuri”.

penis head

The perpetually free glans of the Japanese is called “an artificial phenomenon”. The denudation is attained in the following manner: the foreskin is shoved back behind the corona glandis and often retained in that position by means of a string, so that finally, in many cases, it “cannot be extended forward any more to cover the glans”. The conduct of Japanese is interesting when the penis is to be exposed. At the bath or medical examinations a Japanese would never present himself otherwise than decapped. If, as sometimes happens, the prepuce slips forward again, he quickly draws it back in order not to offend against good form. ***

The Sumatran Islander goes farther: he implants in his penis a number of small stones or silver and gold platelets. The skin of the masculine organ is stretched with the fingers in such a way that it is drawn strongly to either side and back toward the root of the penis. Then with a sharp knife a cut about two centimeters long is made, and into this cut is set a small white stone, usually of one centimeter, but sometimes double this size, prismatic in form and with rounded edges. Then the skin is let go, which, due to its elasticity, returns to its former position and covers the stone. The man whose penis I saw had had these stones set in about twenty five years ago, in order, as he said, to please the women, who were “crazy” about such a man. There had originally been ten such stones, but only four were now left; the others, as he put it, had been lost in the course of time, that is, had been cast out by the tissue.


In Celebes the stimulative effect of the Kambiong is further supported by the eyelids and eye-lashes of a buck that are tied around the margin of the glans. The Araucanians of South America seem to make use of similar devices; they apply to the same part little bristles of horse hair, the so-called geskels.”

eyelashes of a buck

Motilinia reports about the people of Teoucan, Teotetlan and Cozcatlan “that the young men of marriageable age perforated their penis and drew under the skin a rope as thick as one’s finger and from ten to twenty ells long, and if any one fainted during this operation it was said of him that he had already sinned and had had intercourse with women. We hear exactly the same thing from Yucatan where sometimes penitents place themselves in a row, each one perforates his penis, and a string, as long as possible, is drawn through the members of all the penitents together.

homer swami by keith boadwee

image by Keith Boadwee

*** I wonder if headbang8 can ask Master Right if this is true?