The Maoris of New Zealand believed the preservation of the heads kept their spirits alive. The tattoos were to intimidate their enemies in battle. Many of the tattooed Maori practiced cannibalism. The mummified heads became exotic collector items in Europe in the 19th Century, with museum officials saying some men may have been killed by colonists for their tattoos. Since the late 1800's these stolen heads have been displayed in sideshows and Museums throughout Europe. In the 1980's the Maori people began calling for the return of their heads. As of May 2011 France returned what may be the last 16 of these stolen heads. A curious artifact of a strange time. Perfect for sideshow displays.
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