Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short, summarize this topic like I'm... Ten years old or a College student
Headhunting is the practice of hunting a human and collecting the severed head after killing the victim, although sometimes more portable body parts (such as ear, nose or scalp) are taken instead as trophies. Headhunting was practiced in historic times in parts of Europe, East Asia, Oceania, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Mesoamerica, West and Central Africa.
The headhunting practice has been the subject of intense study within the anthropological community, where scholars try to assess and interpret its social roles, functions, and motivations. Anthropological writings explore themes in headhunting that include mortification of the rival, ritual violence, cosmological balance, the display of manhood, cannibalism, dominance over the body and soul of his enemies in life and afterlife, as a trophy and proof of killing (achievement in hunting), show of greatness, prestige by taking on a rival's spirit and power, and as a means of securing the services of the victim as a slave in the afterlife.
Today's scholars generally agree that headhunting's primary function was ritual and ceremonial. It was part of the process of structuring, reinforcing, and defending hierarchical relationships between communities and individuals. Some experts theorize that the practice stemmed from the belief that the head contained "soul matter" or life force, which could be harnessed through its capture.