These pictures are from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. It’s a relatively small museum which joins onto the Natural History museum, which I also visited. The Pitt Rivers museum is pretty small, but stuffed with exhibits featuring a lot of anthropological and archaeological artefacts from around the whole world.
It was fascinating looking at decorated weapons, customised playing cards and all manner of trinkets used as currency; I really want a replica animal lock but unfortunately the gift shop couldn’t help me on that front! I was particularly entranced by the shrunken heads and decorative skulls, painted bright colours and displayed to taunt and humiliate the victims in death.
In the past, tribes had to embark on long, exhausting missions to capture and kill an enemy. Today we kill thousands of innocent people with guns, drones, missiles at the blink of an eye. We obviously do not mock the dead, but we also don’t really mourn or acknowledge the death in any meaningful way at all. The dead are not failings or losses, but merely statistics in our daily news report. Our weapons make it easier to kill, but is it also easier because we don’t recognise the murder for what it is anymore? It’s one of the stranger facets of human nature that we are so intent on killing one another.