Traditional Valentine’s Gift? A Severed Head

NA001786The Irish Independent notes that in another time and place, a human head was the most thoughtful of amorous presents:

While most couples celebrate Valentine’s Day with flowers, chocolates and candlelit dinners, archivists have unearthed evidence that a less savoury romantic gesture was practised historically – bestowing a severed head on a loved one.

This left-field approach to love-making, practised by 19th-century Taiwanese aborigines, was discovered in the 150-year-old letters of botanical explorers.

Taking someone’s head after killing them was a ritualistic part of life in the culture until the 1930s and suitors would present severed heads to potential partners to woo them or to brides to celebrate their marriage, according to archive material in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

The ritual, highlighted as part of the Archive Awareness Campaign, is revealed in a letter to Kew written in 1864 by Kew gardener Richard Oldham, who explains why he cannot explore the Taiwanese mountains near Tamsui.

In 1903, author, explorer and consul James Davidson recorded that a northern tribe called the Atayals were the most active head-hunters and used severed heads to gain favour with unmarried women.

8 Comments on "Traditional Valentine’s Gift? A Severed Head"

  1. Ronniedobbs | Feb 14, 2012 at 9:29 am |

    puts a new spin on “giving head” i guess

  2. This why we need secret military operatives worldwide: to stop this savage traditions in uncivilized countrys like Taiwan, and CHANGE them.

    • Thefourth | Feb 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

       Yes, because nuking entire cities is much less savage. Get a clue and stop trying to meddle with the affairs of others!

    • Did you notice that all of this was reported about 100 years ago?

  3. Eric_D_Read | Feb 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

    Somehow I think the time, thought, and effort put in by these men to select the perfect gift for that special lady would be completely wasted on most modern women.

  4. Sometimes the old ways are best.

  5. Einherjar333 | Feb 17, 2012 at 9:43 am |

    if only it was that easy…

Comments are closed.