Decapitation
Overview
Decapitation is the separation of the head
Human head
In human anatomy, the head is the upper portion of the human body. It supports the face and is maintained by the skull, which itself encloses the brain.-Cultural importance:...

 from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 or execution
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe
Axe
The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol...

, sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

, knife
Knife
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...

, wire
Wire
A wire is a single, usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads and to carry electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Standard sizes are determined by various...

, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine
Guillotine
The guillotine is a device used for carrying out :executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which an angled blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the head from the body...

. Ritualistic decapitation after execution by some other means, sometimes followed by public display of the severed head, has also been common throughout history.
Encyclopedia
Decapitation is the separation of the head
Human head
In human anatomy, the head is the upper portion of the human body. It supports the face and is maintained by the skull, which itself encloses the brain.-Cultural importance:...

 from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 or execution
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe
Axe
The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol...

, sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

, knife
Knife
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...

, wire
Wire
A wire is a single, usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads and to carry electricity and telecommunications signals. Wire is commonly formed by drawing the metal through a hole in a die or draw plate. Standard sizes are determined by various...

, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine
Guillotine
The guillotine is a device used for carrying out :executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which an angled blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the head from the body...

. Ritualistic decapitation after execution by some other means, sometimes followed by public display of the severed head, has also been common throughout history. An executioner
Executioner
A judicial executioner is a person who carries out a death sentence ordered by the state or other legal authority, which was known in feudal terminology as high justice.-Scope and job:...

 carrying out decapitations is called a headsman.

Accidental decapitation can be the result of an explosion
Explosion
An explosion is a rapid increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner, usually with the generation of high temperatures and the release of gases. An explosion creates a shock wave. If the shock wave is a supersonic detonation, then the source of the blast is called a "high explosive"...

, car or industrial accident, improperly administered execution by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 or other violent injury. Suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 by decapitation is rare, but not unknown.

Decapitation is quickly fatal to humans and most animals as brain death
Brain death
Brain death is the irreversible end of all brain activity due to total necrosis of the cerebral neurons following loss of brain oxygenation. It should not be confused with a persistent vegetative state...

 occurs within minutes without circulating oxygenated blood. However, some animals and insects (such as cockroaches
Cockroaches
A cockroach is an insect of the order Blattaria. "Cockroach" may also refer to:*Cockroach , a 2001 album by Danger Danger*Cockroach , a 2008 novel by Rawi Hage...

) can survive decapitation, and die not because of it, but because of starvation. Although head transplantion by the reattachment of blood vessels has been successful with animals, a fully functional reattachment of a severed human head (including repair of the spinal cord
Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain . The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system...

, muscles, and other critically important tissues) has not been achieved.

The word decapitation can also refer, on occasion, to the removal of the head from a body
Human body
The human body is the entire structure of a human organism, and consists of a head, neck, torso, two arms and two legs.By the time the human reaches adulthood, the body consists of close to 100 trillion cells, the basic unit of life...

 that is already dead. This might be done to take the head as a trophy
Headhunting
Headhunting is the practice of taking a person's head after killing them. Headhunting was practised in historic times in parts of China, India, Nigeria, Nuristan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Borneo, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and the Amazon Basin, as...

, for public display
Gibbet
A gibbet is a gallows-type structure from which the dead bodies of executed criminals were hung on public display to deter other existing or potential criminals. In earlier times, up to the late 17th century, live gibbeting also took place, in which the criminal was placed alive in a metal cage...

, to make the deceased more difficult to identify, for cryonics
Cryonics
Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. Cryopreservation of people or large animals is not reversible with current technology...

 or for other reasons.

History

Honour

Decapitation has been used as a form of capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 for millennia. The terms "capital offence", "capital crime", "capital punishment," derive from the Latin caput, "head", referring to the punishment for serious offenses involving the forfeiture of the head; i.e., death by beheading. Decapitation by sword (or axe, a military weapon as well) was sometimes considered the "honorable" way to die for an aristocrat
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

, who, presumably being a warrior, could often expect to die by the sword in any event; in England it was considered a privilege of noblemen to be beheaded. This would be distinguished from a "dishonorable" death on the gallows
Gallows
A gallows is a frame, typically wooden, used for execution by hanging, or by means to torture before execution, as was used when being hanged, drawn and quartered...

 or through burning at the stake. In medieval England, high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

 by nobles was punished by beheading; male commoner traitors, including knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

s, were hanged, drawn and quartered
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III and his successor, Edward I...

; female commoner traitors were burned at the stake
Burned at the Stake
Burned at the Stake is a 1981 film directed by Bert I. Gordon. It stars Susan Swift and Albert Salmi.-Cast:*Susan Swift as Loreen Graham / Ann Putnam*Albert Salmi as Captaiin Billingham*Guy Stockwell as Dr. Grossinger*Tisha Sterling as Karen Graham...

.

In countries where beheading was the usual means of capital punishment, such as in Scandinavia, the noblemen would be beheaded with a sword, symbolizing their class as a military caste, thus dying by an instrument of war, while the commoners would be beheaded with an axe.

Painlessness

If the headsman's axe
Axe
The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol...

 or sword
Executioner's sword
An executioner's sword is a sword designed specifically for decapitation of condemned criminals . These swords were intended for two-handed use, but were lacking a point, so that their overall length was typically that of a single-handed sword...

 was sharp and his aim was precise, decapitation was quick and was presumed to be a relatively painless form of death. If the instrument was blunt or the executioner clumsy, however, multiple strokes might be required to sever the head. The person to be executed was therefore advised to give a gold coin to the headsman to ensure that he did his job with care. Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG was an English nobleman and a favourite of Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years' War in 1599...

, and Mary, Queen of Scots, required three strikes at their respective executions. Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury
Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury was an English peeress, one of two women in sixteenth-century England to be a peeress in her own right with no titled husband, the daughter of George of Clarence, the brother of King Edward IV and King Richard III...

, required ten strokes before the fatal blow.
To ensure that the blow would be fatal, executioners' swords usually were blade-heavy two-handed swords. Likewise, if an axe was used, it almost invariably would be wielded with both hands. In England a special form of axe was used for beheadings, with the blade's edge extending downwards from the tip of the shaft.

Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

's official beheading axe resides today at the Museum of Crime in Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

. It is a broad-bladed two-handed axe. It was last used when murderer Tahvo Putkonen
Tahvo Putkonen
Tahvo Putkonen was a Finnish farmhand, who killed tenant farmer Lasse Hirvonen on December 26, 1822 during the Finnish grand duchy period in Pieksämäki. He was sentenced to death on July 30, 1823. He made numerous appeals all the way to the Emperor, but was each time denied pardon...

 was executed in 1825, the last execution in peacetime in Finland.

Guillotine

Decapitation by guillotine
Guillotine
The guillotine is a device used for carrying out :executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which an angled blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the head from the body...

 was a common, mechanically assisted form of execution
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

, invented shortly before the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 (although an earlier version of the guillotine, the Halifax Gibbet
Halifax Gibbet
The Halifax Gibbet was an early guillotine, or decapitating machine, used in the town of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. It was probably installed some time during the 16th century as an alternative to beheading by axe or sword...

, was used in Halifax
Halifax, West Yorkshire
Halifax is a minster town, within the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. It has an urban area population of 82,056 in the 2001 Census. It is well-known as a centre of England's woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward, originally dealing through the Halifax Piece...

, England, from 1286 until the 17th century, and a version called the "Maiden
Maiden (beheading)
The Maiden is an early form of guillotine, or gibbet, once used as a means of execution in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Maiden is displayed at the National Museum of Scotland...

" was used in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 during the 16th-18th centuries). The aim was to create a painless and quick form of execution that did not require great skill to carry out. The executioner, after chopping off the head, would hold it up to the crowd. There is some evidence that the head could remain conscious for up to ten seconds. The account of Dr. Beaurieux who observed the decapitation of a convict named Languille in 1905, may imply that the head could still see as he recounts "Next Languille's eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focussed themselves" (A history of the guillotine, Alister Kershaw), though there are reasons to doubt the accuracy of Beaurieux's account. The French had a strict code of etiquette surrounding such executions; a man named Legros, one of the assistants at the execution of Charlotte Corday
Charlotte Corday
Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d'Armont , known to history as Charlotte Corday, was a figure of the French Revolution. In 1793, she was executed under the guillotine for the assassination of Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat, who was in part responsible, through his role as a politician and...

, was imprisoned for three months and dismissed for slapping the face of the victim after the blade had fallen in order to see whether any flicker of life remained. The guillotine was used in France during the French Revolution and remained the normal judicial method in both peacetime and wartime into the 1970s, although the firing squad was used in certain cases. France abolished the death penalty in 1981. The guillotine was also used in Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 before the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 relinquished control of it, as shown in Gillo Pontecorvo
Gillo Pontecorvo
Gillo Pontecorvo was an Italian filmmaker. He worked as a film director for more than a decade before his best known film La battaglia di Algeri was released...

's film The Battle of Algiers
The Battle of Algiers (film)
The Battle of Algiers is a 1966 war film based on occurrences during the Algerian War against French colonial occupation in North Africa, the most prominent being the titular Battle of Algiers. It was directed by Gillo Pontecorvo...

. Another guillotine existed in Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 until recent years. It had been brought in by Napoleon's forces during the early 19th century; and, in 1870, the Pope still claimed the authority to use it. In recent times however, the Vatican has abolished capital punishment in its own jurisdiction, and recent Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

s have condemned capital punishment wherever it is still practised.

German Fallbeil

Many German states had used a guillotine-like device known as a Fallbeil since the 17th and 18th centuries, and decapitation by guillotine was the usual means of execution in Germany until the abolition of the death penalty in West Germany in 1949. In Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, the guillotine was reserved for criminal convicts and political crimes including treason. A famous example of the guillotine being used was on the members of the White Rose
White Rose
The White Rose was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor...

 resistance movement, a group of students in Munich that included siblings Sophie
Sophie Scholl
Sophia Magdalena Scholl was a German student, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans...

 and Hans Scholl
Hans Scholl
Hans Fritz Scholl was a founding member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany.-Biography:...

. Contrary to popular myth, executions were generally not conducted face-up, and chief executioner Johann Reichhart
Johann Reichhart
Johann Reichhart was a German executioner. He kept detailed records of his work which amounted to 3,165 executions....

 was peculiarly insistent on maintaining "professional" protocol throughout the era, having administered the death penalty during the earlier Weimar era. Nonetheless, the Nazis' use of the Fallbeil was chillingly routine. It is estimated that some 16,500 persons were guillotined in Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1945. This number includes resistance fighters both in Nazi Germany itself and in those countries that were occupied by them. As these resistance fighters were not part of any regular army they were considered common criminals and were in many cases taken to Germany and decapitated. Decapitation was considered a "dishonorable" death, unlike an "honorable" death: e.g., execution by firing squad
Execution by firing squad
Execution by firing squad, sometimes called fusillading , is a method of capital punishment, particularly common in the military and in times of war.Execution by shooting is a fairly old practice...

.

Propaganda

In the days before photography, it was sometimes important to maintain some visual evidence for identification of executed criminals for public display as a form of political propaganda or intimidation. Public display of the severed head of a well-known person could serve this purpose.

China

In traditional China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 decapitation was considered a more severe form of punishment than strangulation although strangulation caused more prolonged suffering. This was because in Confucian tradition bodies were gifts from their parents, and so it was therefore disrespectful to their ancestors to return their bodies to the grave dismembered. The Chinese however had other punishments, such as dismembering the body into multiple pieces (similar to English quartering
Hanged, drawn and quartered
To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III and his successor, Edward I...

). In addition, there was also a practice of cutting the body at the waist, which was a common way of execution before being abolished in early Qing dynasty due to the lingering death caused. In some tales, people did not die immediately after decapitation.

Pakistan

The British officer John Masters
John Masters
Lieutenant Colonel John Masters, DSO was an English officer in the British Indian Army and novelist. His works are noted for their treatment of the British Empire in India.-Life:...

 recorded in his autobiography that Pathan
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 women in the North-West Frontier Province (1901–1955) of British India (now modern day Pakistan) during the Anglo-Afghan War
Anglo-Afghan War
Anglo-Afghan War may refer to:*First Anglo-Afghan War *Second Anglo-Afghan War *Third Anglo-Afghan War -See also:* European influence in Afghanistan where the backdrop for the three wars mentioned above are discussed....

s would behead and castrate non Muslim soldiers who were captured, like British and Sikhs.

Pakistan's government employs death by hanging for capital punishment. Since 2007, militants from Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan have used beheadings as a form of punishment for opponents, criminals and spies in the north west region of Pakistan. Severed heads of opponents or government officials in Swat were left on popular street corners in order to terrorize local population. The beheadings have stopped in Swat since the military incursion and sweep-up that began in May 2009 and ended in June 2009. Three Sikhs were beheaded
February 2010 Sikh beheadings by Taliban
Three Sikh men were said to have been beheaded by Taliban groups in the FATA area of Pakistan and their heads sent to a gurudwara in Peshawar. One of the Sikhs has been identified as Jaspal Singh...

 by the Taliban in Pakistan in 2010. Daniel Pearl
Daniel Pearl
Daniel Pearl was an American journalist who was kidnapped and killed by Al-Qaeda.At the time of his kidnapping, Pearl served as the South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal, and was based in Mumbai, India. He went to Pakistan as part of an investigation into the alleged links between...

 was beheaded by his captors in the city of Karachi.

A video obtained by the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 on April 20, 2007 shows a young boy, appearing to be around 12 years of age, beheading a man identified as Ghulam Nabi
Ghulam Nabi
Ghulam Nabi was a Pakistani militant involved with the Taliban and had fought against the pro-American Northern Alliance in Afghanistan during the US-led war in Afghanistan....

, a Pakistani militant accused of betraying the Taliban. According to the AP report, "A continuous 2½-minute shot then shows the victim lying on his side on a patch of rubble-strewn ground. A man holds Nabi by his beard while the boy, wearing a camouflage military jacket and oversized white sneakers, cuts into the throat. Other men and boys call out "Allahu akbar!" — "God is great!" — during the beheading. The film, overlain with nasheeds, then shows the boy hacking and slashing at the man's neck until the head is severed."

Despite official condemnation from religious scholars and the state itself, such beheading continues to flourish in the Taliban strongholds of Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and are often jarred and unprofessional resulting in increased pain for the victim.

Japan

In Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, decapitation was a common punishment, sometimes for minor offences. Samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 were often allowed to decapitate soldiers who had fled from battle, as it was considered cowardly. Decapitation was historically performed as the second step in seppuku
Seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...

 (ritual suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 by disembowelment
Disembowelment
Disembowelment is the removal of some or all of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract , usually through a horizontal incision made across the abdominal area. Disembowelment may result from an accident, but has also been used as a method of torture and execution...

). After the victim had sliced his own abdomen
Abdomen
In vertebrates such as mammals the abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the thorax and pelvis. The region enclosed by the abdomen is termed the abdominal cavity...

 open, another warrior would strike his head off from behind with a katana
Katana
A Japanese sword, or , is one of the traditional bladed weapons of Japan. There are several types of Japanese swords, according to size, field of application and method of manufacture.-Description:...

 to hasten death and to reduce the suffering. The blow was expected to be precise enough to leave intact a small strip of skin at the front of the neck—to spare invited and honored guests the indelicacy of witnessing a severed head rolling about, or towards them; such an event would have been considered inelegant and in bad taste. The sword was expected to be used upon the slightest sign that the practitioner might yield to pain and cry out—avoiding dishonor to him and to all partaking in the privilege of observing an honorable demise. As skill was involved, only the most trusted warrior was honored enough to take part. In the late Sengoku period
Sengoku period
The or Warring States period in Japanese history was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century. The name "Sengoku" was adopted by Japanese historians in reference...

, decapitation was performed as soon as the person chosen to carry out seppuku had made the slightest wound to his abdomen.

Decapitation (without seppuku) was also considered very severe and degrading form of punishment. One of the most brutal decapitations was that of Sugitani Zenjubō (:ja:杉谷善住坊), who attempted to assassinate Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga
was the initiator of the unification of Japan under the shogunate in the late 16th century, which ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He was also a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. His opus was continued, completed and finalized by his successors Toyotomi...

, a prominent daimyo
Daimyo
is a generic term referring to the powerful territorial lords in pre-modern Japan who ruled most of the country from their vast, hereditary land holdings...

 in 1570. After being caught, Zenjubō was buried alive in the ground with only his head out, and the head was slowly sawn off with a bamboo saw by passers-by for several days (Punishment of sawing; nokogiribiki; :ja:鋸挽き). These unusual punishments were abolished in the early Meiji
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 era.

Korea

Historically, decaptitation had been the most common method of execution in Korea, until it was replaced by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 in 1896. Professional executioners were called "Mangnani" (망나니) and belonged to the lowest class of people.

Thailand

In Southern Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, there were at least 15 cases where Buddhists
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 have been beheaded in 2005. Thai officials suspect the attackers are part of the South Thailand Muslim insurgency
South Thailand insurgency
An ethnic separatist insurgency is taking place in Southern Thailand, predominantly in the Malay Pattani region, made up of the three southernmost provinces of Thailand. Violence has increasingly spilling over into other provinces...

 who are seeking to separate the south end part from the rest of Thailand.

Classical Antiquity

In the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 of the early 1st century BC, it became the tradition for the severed heads of public enemies — such as the opponents of Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

 and Sulla for example — to be publicly displayed on the Rostra
Rostra
The Rōstra was a large platform built in the city of Rome that stood during the republican and imperial periods. Speakers would stand on the rostra and face the north side of the comitium towards the senate house and deliver orations to those assembled in between...

 in the Forum Romanum after execution. Perhaps the most famous such victim was Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 who, on instructions from Marc Antony, had his hands (which had penned the Philippics against Antony) and his head cut off and nailed up for display in this manner.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992–1995) there were a number of ritual beheadings of Serbs who were taken as prisoners of war by mujahedin
Bosnian mujahideen
Bosnian mujahideen were foreign Muslim volunteers who fought on the side of Bosnian Muslims during the 1992–1995 Bosnian war. They arrived in Bosnia with the aim of fighting for Islam and on behalf of Muslims who were at the time brutally attacked by Serbs and Croats in different parts of the...

 members of the Bosnian Army
Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the military force of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina established by the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 following the outbreak of the Bosnian War...

. At least one case is documented and proven in court by the ICTY
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, more commonly referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY, is a...

 where mujahedin, members of 3rd Corps of Army BiH, beheaded Bosnian Serb
Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina are people of Serb ethnicity inhabiting the Balkan regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, or, since the establishment of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a state in the 1990s, the Serbs who have its citizenship. The Serbs are one of the three constitutive nations of this...

 Dragan Popović.
Another case of beheadings of Serbs is documented to have happened on Kazani, on Trebević
Trebevic
Trebević is a mountain in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is found directly to the southeast of Sarajevo, territory of East Sarajevo city, bordering Jahorina mountain. Trebević is 1627 meters tall, making it the second shortest of the Sarajevo mountains.During the Middle Ages, Trebević was...

 mountain above Sarajevo. Mostly Serb civilians were killed by beheading, and later on thrown in the Kazani pit. These actions were performed by several soldiers of the 10th mountain brigade under the command of Mušan Topalović
Mušan Topalovic
Mušan "Caco" Topalović was commander of the 10th Mountain Brigade in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Caco was also a smuggler, thief and gangster inside the besieged capital Sarajevo...

 - Caco.

Germany

  • In July 1931, notorious serial killer Peter Kürten
    Peter Kürten
    Peter Kürten was a German serial killer dubbed The Vampire of Düsseldorf by the contemporary media. He committed a series of sex crimes, assaults and murders against adults and children, most notoriously from February to November 1929 in Düsseldorf.-Early life:Kürten was born into a...

    , known as "The Vampire of Düsseldorf", was executed on the guillotine in Cologne
    Cologne
    Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

    .
  • On 1 August 1933, in Altona
    Altona, Hamburg
    Altona is the westernmost urban borough of the German city state of Hamburg, on the right bank of the Elbe river. From 1640 to 1864 Altona was under the administration of the Danish monarchy. Altona was an independent city until 1937...

    , Bruno Tesch
    Bruno Tesch (antifascist)
    Bruno Guido Camillo Tesch was a German antifascist and member of the Young Communist League of Germany. Aged 20, he was convicted of murder and executed in connection with the Altona Bloody Sunday riot, an SA march on 17 July 1932 that turned violent and led to 18 people being shot and killed...

     and three others were beheaded. These were the first executions in the Third Reich. The executions concerned the Altona Bloody Sunday (Altonaer Blutsonntag) riot, an SA
    Sturmabteilung
    The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

     march on 17 July 1932 that turned violent and led to 18 people being shot dead.
  • Marinus van der Lubbe
    Marinus van der Lubbe
    Marinus van der Lubbe was a Dutch council communist convicted of, and controversially executed for, setting fire to the German Reichstag building on February 27, 1933, an event known as the Reichstag fire. ....

     by guillotine in 1934 after a show trial
    Show trial
    The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

     in which he was found guilty of starting the Reichstag fire
    Reichstag fire
    The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

    .
  • In February 1935 Benita von Falkenhayn
    Benita von Falkenhayn
    Benita von Falkenhayn, maiden name von Zolikofer-Altenklingen was a Swiss-born German baroness who was a spy for Poland....

     and Renate von Natzmer
    Renate von Natzmer
    Renate von Natzmer was a German noblewoman who worked for the army during the Weimar Republic and Third Reich. She also worked for Polish intelligence. In the early 30s, she met Polish agent major Jerzy Sosnowski and she became, like her friend Benita von Falkenhayn, his lover. They were arrested...

     were beheaded with the axe and block in Berlin
    Berlin
    Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

     for espionage for Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    . Axe beheading was the only method of executions in Berlin until 1938, when it was decreed that all civil executions would henceforth be carried out by guillotine. However, the practice was continued in rare cases as late as in 1944
    Olga Bancic
    Olga Bancic , also known under her French nom de guerre Pierrette , was a Jewish Romanian communist, known for her role in the French Resistance during World War II. A member of the FTP-MOI and the Manouchian Group, she was captured by Nazi German forces in late 1943...

    .
  • In February 1943, university students Hans Scholl
    Hans Scholl
    Hans Fritz Scholl was a founding member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany.-Biography:...

    , his sister Sophie Scholl
    Sophie Scholl
    Sophia Magdalena Scholl was a German student, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans...

    , and Christoph Probst
    Christoph Probst
    Christoph Hermann Probst was a German student of medicine and a member of the White Rose resistance group.-White Rose:...

     of the White Rose
    White Rose
    The White Rose was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor...

     protest movement, for distributing anti-war and anti-Nazi leaflets. Four other members of the White Rose
    White Rose
    The White Rose was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor...

     were also executed by the Nazi People's Court later that same year. The anti-Nazi Helmuth Hübener
    Helmuth Hübener
    Helmuth Guddat Kunkel Hübener was the youngest opponent of the Third Reich to be sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof and executed.-Life:...

     was also decapitated by People’s Court order.

  • In May and September 1943 several Dutch members of the Wollweber League were beheaded with the axe.


Altogether, over 40,000 Germans were legally executed under the Nazi regime, most of them by guillotine.

France

Decapitation by guillotine was the only legal method of execution in France (in a few cases, the firing squad was used) from the time of the French Revolution until 1981, when President François Mitterrand
François Mitterrand
François Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the 21st President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra, serving from 1981 until 1995. He is the longest-serving President of France and, as leader of the Socialist Party, the only figure from the left so far elected President...

 abolished capital punishment and issued commutations for those whose sentences had not been executed. It was last used in 1977, the last legal beheading in a democratic country.

Nordic countries

In Nordic countries
Nordic countries
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

, decapitation was the usual means of carrying out capital punishment. Noblemen were beheaded with a sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

, and commoners with an axe
Axe
The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol...

. The last executions by decapitation in Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 in 1825, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 in 1876, Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Scotland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland...

 in 1609, and in Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 in 1830 were carried out with axes. The same was the case in Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 in 1892. Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 continued the practice for a few decades, executing its last criminal - mass murderer Johan Filip Nordlund - by manual cleaver in 1900, followed by the first and only execution by guillotine
Guillotine
The guillotine is a device used for carrying out :executions by decapitation. It consists of a tall upright frame from which an angled blade is suspended. This blade is raised with a rope and then allowed to drop, severing the head from the body...

 in 1910.

Nordlund's execution was the last (legal) manual beheading in the Western worlds except for in Germany, where it prevailed until the days of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 (see above).

The official beheading axe of Finland resides today in the Museum of Crime, Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

.

Spain

In Spain executions were carried out by various methods including strangulation by the garrotte. In the 16th and 17th centuries, noblemen were sometimes executed by means of beheading. They were tied to a chair on a scaffold. The executioner used a knife to cut the head from the body. It was considered to be a more honourable death if the executioner started with cutting the throat.

Mexico

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, Ignacio Allende
Ignacio Allende
Ignacio José de Allende y Unzaga , born Ignacio Allende y Unzaga, was a captain of the Spanish Army in Mexico who came to sympathize with the Mexican independence movement. He attended the secret meetings organized by Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, where the possibility of an independent New Spain was...

, José Mariano Jiménez
José Mariano Jiménez
José Mariano Jiménez was a Mexican engineer and rebel officer active at the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence....

 and Juan Aldama
Juan Aldama
Juan Aldama was a Mexican revolutionary rebel soldier during the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. He was also the brother of Ignacio Aldama....

 were tried for treason, executed by firing squad and beheaded during the Mexican independence in 1811. Their heads were on display on the four corners of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas
Alhóndiga de Granaditas
The Alhóndiga de Granaditas is an old grain storage building in Guanajuato City, Mexico. This historic building was created to replace an old granary near the city's river. Its construction lasted from 1798 to 1809, by orders of Juan Antonio de Riaño y Bárcena, a Spaniard who was the quartermaster...

, in Guanajuato
Guanajuato
Guanajuato officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Guanajuato is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato....

.

Recently during the Mexican Drug War
Mexican Drug War
The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing armed conflict taking place among rival drug cartels who fight each other for regional control, and Mexican government forces who seek to combat drug trafficking. However, the government's principal goal has been to put down the drug-related violence that was...

 some Mexican drug cartels have turned to decapitation of rival cartel members as a method of intimidation.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian authorities beheaded four men in February 2007— Sangeeth Kumara, Victor Corea, Ranjith Silva and Sanath Pushpakumara.These four Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

n workers were convicted in a Saudi Arabian court for an armed robbery committed in October 2004. Their deaths sparked reactions from the international human rights group Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

, which called on the Saudi authorities to abolish the death sentence
Death Sentence
Death Sentence is a short story by the American science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the November 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1972 collection The Early Asimov.-Plot summary:...

. The court also ruled that the bodies of the four workers be crucified for public view as an example for others. In most such cases the respective embassy is notified only after the execution, thereby eliminating chances for international or diplomatic protest.

Iraq

Though not officially sanctioned, legal beheadings were carried out against at least 50 prostitutes and pimps under Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 as late as 2000.

Beheadings have emerged as another terror
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 tactic especially in Iraq since 2003. Civilians have borne the brunt of the beheadings, although U.S. and Iraqi military personnel have also been targeted. After kidnapping the victim, the kidnappers typically make some sort of demand of the government of the hostage's nation and give a time limit for the demand to be carried out, often 72 hours. Beheading is often threatened if the government fails to heed the wishes of the hostage takers. Frequently the crude beheadings are videotaped and made available on the Internet. One of the most publicized of such executions was that of Nick Berg
Nick Berg
Nicholas Evan "Nick" Berg was an American businessman who went to Iraq after the US invasion of Iraq. He was abducted and later beheaded according to a video released in May 2004 by Islamist militants...

.

Judicial execution is practiced in Iraq, but is generally carried out by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

.

See also

  • Blood squirt
    Blood squirt
    Blood squirt is the effect when an artery, a blood vessel in the human body , is cut...

    , a result from a decapitation
  • Dismemberment
    Dismemberment
    Dismemberment is the act of cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise removing, the limbs of a living thing. It may be practiced upon human beings as a form of capital punishment, as a result of a traumatic accident, or in connection with murder, suicide, or cannibalism...

  • Flying guillotine
    Flying guillotine (weapon)
    The flying guillotine is a legendary Chinese weapon used in the Qing Dynasty in the Yongzheng era.-Etymology, history and description:This weapon supposedly hails from the time of the Yongzheng Emperor during the Qing Dynasty. There are stories and crude drawings detailing their appearance but no...

    , a legendary Chinese
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     assassin's weapon
  • Headhunting
    Headhunting
    Headhunting is the practice of taking a person's head after killing them. Headhunting was practised in historic times in parts of China, India, Nigeria, Nuristan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Borneo, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, and the Amazon Basin, as...

  • Head transplant
    Head transplant
    A head transplant is a surgical operation involving the grafting of an organism's head onto the body of another. It should not be confused with another, hypothetical, surgical operation, the brain transplant. Head transplantation involves decapitating the patient...

  • Experiments in the Revival of Organisms
    Experiments in the Revival of Organisms
    Experiments in the Revival of Organisms is a 1940 motion picture which documents Soviet research into the resuscitation of clinically dead organisms. It is available from the Prelinger Archives, and it is in the public domain. The British scientist J. B. S...

    , a 1940 film featuring one of Bryukhonenko's severed dog heads
  • Internal decapitation
    Internal decapitation
    Internal decapitation, atlanto-occipital dislocation, or orthopedic decapitation describes the rare medical condition in which the skull separates from the spinal column during severe head injury...

    , where the skull
    Human skull
    The human skull is a bony structure, skeleton, that is in the human head and which supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.In humans, the adult skull is normally made up of 22 bones...

     is dislodged from the spine
    Vertebral column
    In human anatomy, the vertebral column is a column usually consisting of 24 articulating vertebrae, and 9 fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx. It is situated in the dorsal aspect of the torso, separated by intervertebral discs...

    ; a typically, but not always, fatal injury
  • List of methods of capital punishment
  • Silent Woman
  • Sword of Justice
    Sword of Justice
    A Sword of Justice, or executioner's sword, was used by trained executioners for carrying out capital punishment in many cultures. Given their special 'ceremonial' purpose, they were usually very well-made of the highest quality metal and were extremely sharp...

  • Visigothic Code
    Visigothic Code
    The Visigothic Code comprises a set of laws promulgated by the Visigothic king of Hispania, Chindasuinth in his second year...

  • Cephalophore
    Cephalophore
    A cephalophore is a saint who is generally depicted carrying his or her own head; in art, this was usually meant to signify that the subject in question had been martyred by beheading....

    , a martyred saint who carries his/her severed head
  • Paul Loye
    Paul Loye
    Paul Loye was a French physician and "préparateur" for various physiological courses at the Sorbonne in the 1880s. His greatest contribution lay in his observations on the functions and organization of the brain and nervous system....

    , who studied movement of various parts of the body after decapitation
  • Dr. Sergey Bryukhonenko, who kept decapitated dog heads alive for some time by perfusing them with oxygenated blood
  • Dr. Vladimir Demikhov
    Vladimir Demikhov
    Vladimir Petrovich Demikhov was a Soviet scientist and organ transplant pioneer, who did several transplantations in the 1930s and 1950s, such as the transplantation of a heart into an animal and a lung-heart replacement in an animal. He is also well-known for his transplantation of the heads of...

    , who performed head transplantation on dogs
  • Dr. Robert J. White
    Robert J. White
    Robert Joseph White was an American surgeon, best known for his head transplants on monkeys.-Biography:...

    , who performed head transplantation on monkeys
  • List of people who were beheaded
  • Mike the Headless Chicken
    Mike the Headless Chicken
    Mike the Headless Chicken , also known as Miracle Mike, was a Wyandotte chicken that lived for 18 months after his head had been mostly cut off...

  • Chinnamasta, a Hindu goddess who decapitates herself and holds her head in her hand
  • Rahu
    Rahu
    In Hindu mythology, Rahu is a cut-off head of an asura, that swallows the sun or the moon causing eclipses. He is depicted in art as a serpent with no body riding a chariot drawn by eight black horses. Rahu is one of the navagrahas in Vedic astrology...

    , The floating head said to cause eclipses in ancient Hindu astronomy

External links

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