WARNING: Clicking on image will get you a giant, even more ghastly, image. You have been warned!

Yep, it’s a real one.

I grew up in Memphis and not far from where we lived was The Pink Palace. On bicycle, it was five or ten minutes away, depending on shortcuts and ditch (rain!) conditions.

Originally built as someone’s home, they ran out of money — Oops! — and The Pink Palace, so named for the color of stone in the exterior, ended up in the city’s hands.

The city converted it to house several things including an amateur theater — now Theater Memphis but relocated elsewhere, meeting rooms for various scout (boys, girls, eagles, etc.) and civic organizations, a planetarium and, for most of the building, a museum.

There was the stuffed big game room, the rock and mineral room, the “ladies fashions through the ages” room and so forth.

And while some of the exhibits held a young boy’s interest for no more than a glance, stashed away in a glass case in the unlikely Civil War room was this unique item, the head of some Amazon jungle warrior’s enemy, shrunk to about 3-4″ wide and 5″ tall.

In its display case, the head was accompanied by a 3×5 size card detailing the procedure for shrinkage which, having read it many times on numerous visits and committed it to memory, I know but will spare you the grisly recitation. Suffice to say that the first step is removing all the “contents” — er, that’s after killing and beheading your future artifact, of course.

As the museum’s collection grew and the original building aged, the city eventually built a new structure and moved everything. The old building now houses the museum offices, not open to the public.

But I am told by knowing residents that the shrunken head is on display in the new museum. Is it still next to that Army of the South officer’s Civil War uniform, I wonder?

2 thoughts on “Shrunken Head

  1. Recipe for a Shrunken Head
    Pink Palace Museum, Memphis, TN

    kill an enemy
    remove the head
    discard the body

    aromatic herbs
    crushed rocks
    cotton thread

    Prepare a solution of aromatic herbs and set aside. Split the severed head down the back of the skull and remove the bones. Place the boneless head in the aromatic herb solution. Allow it to soak for several weeks. This embalming process will turn the head black.

    When this is complete, remove the head from the aromatic herb solution. Heat the crushed rock. Fill the pickled head at successive times with the rocks until the shrinking process is well under way. Heat the sand and pack it in the head in order to mold the features. Carefully sew the mouth shut with cotton thread to prevent the sand from spilling out. Continue to use hot sand for molding until the shrinking is completed.


    The Pink Palace’s shrunken head is currently on display in the Pink Palace “Memories Room”.


  2. Just starting in pistol shooting. Like your site. Just something said you were from the south and now I know. I live in MS and had grandparents in Memphis so I to remember the Pink Palace and all it wonders.

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