James Ritchie is Sarawak’s chronicler, a near-legendary raconteur and bon-vivant who has spent a lifetime studying the customs of the State of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo. He has written a great deal on the practice of, and mythos surrounding the tradition of headhunting. The following three articles are available as posts on the WoWasis blog.
1) How headhunting originated in Sarawak is an essential essay on the historical and cultural elements surrounding this ancient rite.
2) An Iban veteran tells how heads are smoked describes the process by which heads are readied for display.
3) The Religious basis for headhunting testifies to the philosophical structures behind the practice.
James Ritchie worked with the New Straits Times for 25 years, before joining the Sarawak Civil Service as a Consultant Public Relations Officer in the Chief Minister’s Department in 1998. He writes for the Sarawak Tribune, Borneo Post, and The Malaysian Today. A prolific writer on Sarawak affairs, he has written hundreds of newspaper articles and authored or co-authored about 15 books, including Man-eating Crocodiles of Borneo, Bruno Manser: the Inside Story, Mystical Borneo, Changes and Challenges: Sarawak 1963-1998, and Tun Ahmad Zaidi, Son of Sarawak. He has won numerous journalistic honors including the prestigious Shell-Kenyaland Award.