Native American language * Native American information * Find your Native American ancestors

Tsantsa (Shrunken Heads)

"Tsantsa" is the name for traditional shrunken head talismans in the languages of the Shuar, Achuar, and other Jivaroan tribes of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian rainforest. These mummified heads were used for ritual purposes in ancient times. This practice is no longer followed by Jivaro people today. The word tsantsa is a Shuar word pronounced tsahn-tsah (with the "ts" similar to the "ts" in "tsunami,") but the English pronunciation is usually closer to chahn-chah.

Sponsored Links

Tsantsa Resources

Here are links to some online resources about Tsantsa head-shrinking:
 Tsantsa Head Shrinkers
 The Shrunken Heads of Jivaro
 Tsantsa Shrunken Heads
 Tsantsas: How Shrunken Heads Work

Here are links to our webpages about the Jivaro tribes and languages:
 Achuar
 Shuar
 Jivaro
 Achuar culture
 Amazonian Indian languages
 Jivaro language family

Books about Tsantsas

Here are a few good books about Tsantsas and the Jivaro tribes:
 Shrunken Heads: Tsantsa Trophies and Human Exotica
 Jivaro: Head-Hunters Of The Amazon
 The Jivaro: People of the Sacred Waterfalls



Back to our Native American Indian definitions



Would you like to help support our organization's work with the Shuar language?

Native Languages of the Americas website 1998-2015 * Contacts and FAQ page