JAKARTA - A culturally significant skull that was smuggled into the country last year has been formally returned to Indonesia. The federal government seized the Asmat Skull in 2005 after it was illegally imported into the country. It was returned yesterday. Heritage minister Senator Ian Campbell said the skull was returned because the government was determined to protect important cultural heritage items from other countries.
“Australia and Indonesia are committed to working together to conserve and protect some of the world’s most important cultural heritage objects," he said. “This unique object has been painted with what appears to be ochre and displays a braided headband of feathers, a large ornament similar to boars’ tusks and other ornamentation including seeds and beads.”
The skull is a reminder of the head hunting practices of the Asmat people of Papua. Headhunting was once a part of their culture, with the people collecting and displaying the heads of enemies on elaborate carved poles as symbols of the victories of wars between tribes. The National Museum of Australia conserved and packed the skull for transportation.