The tradition of headhunting was beginning to come to an end in 1874, with encouragement from the Dutch colonial powers, after all Dayak people tribes acknowledged that the practice brings more conflict than peace, thus diminishing revenge killings and village raids. The mass conversions to Christianity by the colonial missionaries and the official banning of the practice by law, further minimized the headhunting tradition. However, in times of great conflict when the Indonesian State was in danger and the Dayak were called upon to help defend the nation, headhunting was allowed in fighting the Malaysians, the Japanese in World War Two and later in the early 1960’s against communist influence from within the State and from outside. This headhunter mandau knife set is part of a dying if not vanished tradition.
Photos of the pages were taken from the book: Traditional Weapons of the Indonesian Archipelago by Albert G. van Zonneveld, C. Zwartenkot Art Books, 2001.