Head-hunting goes back to the Stone Ages and perhaps even before that. It has been practiced in one form or another practically all over the world. And it actually survived until the early twentieth century in the Balkan peninsula in Europe! While the reasons for doing it may have differed from place to place and from time to time, it had one general basis.
This was the belief that the soul was made up of matter and that all life depended on it. It was believed that in human beings this soul matter was located especially in the head.
When a community or a tribe was able to get hold of some heads, they believed that the souls within the heads were captured. They thus felt they were adding to the stock of soul matter belonging to the com- munity, and this would make the people, the cattle, and the crops more fertile.
Many of us think of head-hunting as being carried on chiefly in Africa, but this is not true. Head-hunting did occur there, especially in Nigeria. But in the British Museum there is a bas-relief which shows a battle taking place in the seventh century B.C. and the Assyrians are cutting off and taking away the heads of their enemies. In many parts of India, head-hunting was widely practiced.
In North America, the Indians did not take the head, they just took the scalp, probably because they believed the soul was located in the hair. In South America, there was not only head-hunting, but they developed the practice of shrinking the head and preserving it as a trophy.
What does head hunter mean?
A headhunter is a company or individual that provides employment recruiting services on behalf of the employer.