The primitive Jivaro people of the Ecuadorian Amazon are one of many headhunting cultures found throughout history, but what set them apart was their singular practice of carefully collecting each head they removed, then boiling them in a scalding pot for up to three weeks.
This process created tiny shrunken heads, an oddity made famous by explorers at the turn of the last century. But even more strange is the Jivaro’s reason for going through such trouble. They claimed their ancestors had faced a great demonic menace many hundreds of years before, and each generation was obligated to continue the practice, or risk total tribal extinction.
We’ve already discussed the possibility that another ancient civilization of Latin America was wiped out by the undead (see: Mayan’s Destroyed by Zombies?), now ZRS Researcher, Scott LaBorde, suggests a similar set of circumstances for the Jivaro, but with a very different outcome.
“In a time of conquest, the Jivaro may well have come across a tribe already consumed by some undead plague. Death by decapitation would not work in that case, as detached zombie heads would continue to look around, and gnash their teeth. Much to the horror of the Jivaro, no doubt.”
LaBorde goes on to argue that the extreme ritual of sewing the eyes and mouth shut before boiling the disembodied head would be a logical step to take when faced with such a bizarre and ungodly enemy as a primitive zombie horde. Furthermore, cooking the brain until it becomes a worthless pile of mush is no doubt an effective way to ensure any remaining life force is removed.
Because the Jivaro were known for their ferocity in battle, LaBorde concludes that they must have been able to overcome the zombie threat they faced so long ago. But the fight left a permanent mark on the tribe, as evidenced by the tradition of head shrinking, and the dire warning passed on from one generation to the next.