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Longmoye Shengdi

Ximeng, Pu'er, Yunnan, China
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Thousands of cow skulls make a sacred shrine for the Wa people Pu'er  China

Thousands of cow skulls make a sacred shrine for the Wa people

In an discovered corner of China's Yunnan province, in the jungles straddling the Burmese border, live the Wa people (佤族) of Ximeng. One of the oldest inhabitants of Southeast Asia, the Wa were mainly hunter-gatherers who practiced a little slash-and-burn farming, enlivened by the occasional act of headhunting. They would conduct headhunting raids just before harest season, mounting the heads on pikes outside their villages, believing the spirits within them would bless them with a bountiful harvest. Since hunting human heads was outlawed when the Communists arrived in 1952, the Wa switched to cow heads instead. In a mysterious tableaux that seems straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, you can see thousands of these cow heads mounted on trees and rock cliffs in Longmoye (龙摩爷). This sacred spot is in a gully with a river and waterfall, in the rainforest above the Longtan (龙潭) Dragon Pool of Ximeng (西盟), a small county in Pu'er Prefecture dominated by the Wa people.