Are there such things as acceptable cannibals? In some countries where is cannibalism common, people either know to stay away from certain areas, or it’s such a normal way of life that they pay no mind to the group of people eating a person. One of the sad truths about cannibal cultures is that most of them either live in areas that are deeply cut off from the rest of the world, or they’re made up of holdovers from militias that stalked third world countries during the back half of the 20th century.
Cannibals have a variety of reasons for doing what they do, but most of them fall into two camps: endocannibalism, the eating of the dead, or cannibalism in order to gain the powers of those they eat. Are there some countries where one style is more accepted than the other? Keep reading to find out.
Of the people that still practice cannibalism, most of them either live deep in the South American jungles or on isolated islands. But that’s not to say there aren’t cannibals in more westernized countries. Cannibalism around the world begins to take on a more theatrical flair the further it gets from a tribal body. In places like Eastern Europe, the cannibal groups are made up of pseudo-occultists who eat the flesh of children, while in China, the cannibalism is somehow even worse, yet incredibly mundane. To learn about the places where you can still eat a person, keep scrolling. Hopefully, you’ve got an empty stomach.
Perhaps the spookiest of all the modern cannibals are those whose culture hasn't evolved along with the rest of society. The group, which resides near northern India, are a mystery to the rest of the inhabitants of the area. A photographer that followed the monks for months said the people of India fear them and believe that they can "predict the future, walk on water and do evil prophecies."
The Aghori believe that by immersing themselves without prejudice in what others deem taboo or disturbing they can reach enlightenment. Their practices include chewing the heads off live animals, daubing their bodies with ash from burnt corpses, meditating on top of corpses, eating human flesh, and drinking blood. They believe the body to be transitory, and they hold human life in low regard.see more on Varanasi
Indonesian New Guinea - The Korowai Are Some of the Best-Known Cannibals in the World
If there's such a thing as a "popular" cannibal tribe, the Korowai tribe of Papua New Guinea is basically the Rolling Stones of eating people. In 2006, Australian journalist Paul Raffaele traveled deep into the forest to observe the hidden tribe's millennia-old customs. According to Raffaele,
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For the Korowai, if someone falls out of a tree house or is killed in battle then the reason for their death is pretty obvious. But they don't understand microbes and germs (which the rain forests are rife with) so when somebody dies mysteriously to them (of a disease), they believe it is due to a khakhua, a witch man who comes from the netherworld.
A khakhua possesses the body of a man (it can never be a woman) and begins to magically eat their insides, according to logic of the Melanesian imperative you must pay back in kind. They must eat the khakhua as it ate the person who died. It is part of their revenge based justice system.
Congo's Mai-Mai people are essentially community-based militias who are bound together in order to keep their homes from being taken over by a variety of armed groups. Some are led by warlords, traditional tribal elders, or village heads, but they all take part in ritual cannibalism of their enemies because they believe it brings them special powers.
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The Khmer Rouge was the name given to followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea in Cambodia and its glory days were from the late '60s to the late '90s, but there are still a few KRs kicking around in Northern Vietnam to this day. They were some of the most brutal guerilla warriors of their day, and during the genocide hearing of "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, and the former head of state Khieu Samphan, their cannibalistic tactics were revealed in gory detail. A detention camp prisoner recounted, "She was asked to take off her clothes and her body was cut open. There was blood everywhere... her liver was taken out and was cooked for a meal." Most of the members of the Khmer Rouge took part in cannibalism because they believed that their enemies were of a lower class than they were, and as such, they deserved to be maimed as sadistically as possible.
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The Wari', or Pakaa Nova, are the indigenous people of Brazil, and if you're hanging out with them, you can expect to eat at least one dead person during your stay. The Wari' practice something called endocannibalism, or the eating of a member of one's own tribe after they die. The Wari' death ritual involves laying the body out for as long as it takes for each of the deceased's family members to arrive (usually about three days). In that time, the body begins to decompose and bloat, and upon the family's arrival, they tend to feast on the heart and internal organs of the body, leaving the skin and hair to rot.
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West Africa - The Leopard Society Wants Your Flesh
In West Africa, a group that's referred to as "The Leopard Society" has been known to dress in leopard skins when they attack unsuspecting travelers with homemade knives and swords in the form of leopards' claws and teeth. You can imagine what comes next, right? Yep, they slice up their victims and munch on 'em. They believe that cannibalism strengthens their tribe. The Leopard Society has all but gone underground in the 21st century, but that doesn't mean that they aren't out there waiting to waylay a family as they make their way across Sierra Leone.see more on West Africa
Is there a word for when you keep trying to convert a cannibalistic tribe to Christianity only to have your efforts consistently backfire, causing you to be eaten by said tribe? Whatever that is, it keeps happening to Christian missionaries who have made it their life's work to convert the Amahuacas of the Ucayali, a group of cannibals who live near the Peruvian border. The Amahuacas believe that once a person has died, they must be consumed in order to keep them inside of a warm friend rather than the cold ground.
One missionary wrote about the practice as such:
About a month after the funeral, disinter the corpse, which is by then much decomposed, and put it in a great pan over the fire till all the volatile parts are driven off with a most horrible odour, leaving only a black, carbonaceous mass, which is then pounded into a fine powder and mixed in several large vats made out of hollowed trees, filled with caxiri. This is then drunk by the assembled company till all is finished.
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Tanna - Cargo Cults Want to Eat You
Cancel your vacation to Tanna, because a cargo cult has just made the jump from praying to Prince Philip to straight-up killing people and eating them so they can bring an end to the world and take over the uninhabited earth. Don't worry too much, Inspector Jacob Bando of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary thinks he has the whole thing figured out. "They will gain power by eating people. That by eating the victim's heart and kidneys, they will become invisible. Also, they believe that if they carry out these rituals, goods will fall out of the sky." Good to know.see more on Tanna