The practice of headhunting is typically associated with pre-colonial Southeast Asia, and for good reason: Prior to 1700, approximately one-third of the region’s populace engaged in the sadistic pastime. But the ritualized lopping off of skulls had its fair share of devotees in Europe, too. The tribes of Montenegro were avid headhunters, primarily targeting Ottoman Turks (who took heads of their own). But they would settle for fellow Montenegrins in a pinch, especially when the decapitation could be incorporated into an ongoing blood feud. In his fascinating Blood Revenge, the anthropologist Christopher Boehm recounts a particularly brutal incident:
When the agents of Prince Nicholas eventually took their revenge upon Aleksa Djilas, they cut off his head, took it home, and threw it out on a field to rot or to be ganwed on by animals. They dishonored his body in order to pay him back for the unusual damage he had done to Captain Corovic. Only a young girl of the Djilas household, Aleksa’s daughter Stanojka, could safely go to bring back his head. She was sent on this mission, did her job, and remained emotionally impaired for the rest of her life from the gruesome experience.
The whole book is worth a read, especially if you fancy yourself a student of clannish Balkan squabbling. Microkhan certainly does.