Keep a Little Memory of Your Pet with You All of the Time . . . by Beheading It and Stringing It on a Necklace

Filed under politicking, super furry animals

My best friend, Tracey, sent me a link this morning to a Craftzine blog post showcasing a necklace made from a dead bird’s head. My immediate reaction was along the lines of, “Cool! I’d buy that and love it and wear it every day if it wasn’t $350.”

When I read all of the comments on the post, though, I noticed that 90% of them were along the lines of, “Gross! This is barbaric and despicable, and you should warn us before you post things like this.” And any comments that were positive received replies along the lines of, “Shut up.”

What’s the big deal? The bird died of natural causes and is being celebrated as art. It wasn’t harmed to make the jewelry, and I imagine that if animals could express their preferences for their remains, they’d choose to be displayed proudly on necks rather than be stuffed in shoeboxes and tossed in holes in the ground. Of course, I could be a little biased, because I think the giant stuffed moose head on my neighbor’s wall in Ohio is rad.

When I suggested that I might like to cut off my dead mother’s ring finger and have it taxidermied to display in my home, wedding ring and all, Tracey agreed that it wouldn’t be offensive. My friend Tim tells me that in Papua New Guinea, mourners wear necklaces of their loved ones’ digits to honor their memories. My friend Anthony thinks people have may desecration of the dead issues with that in the U.S., but Tracey came up with the solution of donor cards that allow you to choose whether or not to permit your family to use your parts postmortem. Wouldn’t you love to see stuffed hands and feet on mantles like any other tchotchke right next to your Christmas stocking?

My friend Nik imagines that most of the people who threw hissy fits at the dead bird head are the same ones wearing leather shoes as they type, and I agree. It’s another example of the way people generally have no problem squashing a cockroach but freak out when anyone harms a cuddly bunny. Of course, I totally understand why someone would protest the squirrel feet earrings, but that’s only because they’re ugly.

And Tracey, you’re getting a cat hair handbag for your birthday. The $400 kind, because I care.


  1. Sandy says:

    I like the dead animal parts that I adorn my body with to be processed beyond recognition (e.g., leather); I feel the same about my animal-based food (like, I like a steak, but not a lobster, because I don’t need it looking at me). I was in a craft swap once, and received two pairs of earrings: One with rattlesnake rattles and one with the fangs of a tarantula. I thanked the woman for my package, but was seriously grossed out by the whole thing. I think I still have them somewhere if you want them.

    • Okay, but seriously, tarantula fangs are entirely grosser than just about anything you could wear on your head. The rattlesnake rattles I could handle, but spiders are evil. I’d sooner wear your intestines as a necklace. Still full of food.


  2. Kim says:

    Oh my god tarantula fang earrings sound awesome.

    I think I can understand both types of reactions to a birdhead necklace and thus don’t have any real comment. But I am totally wearing leather shoes as I type.

  3. Cristy says:

    I think I’m mixed on this one. I, personally, hate hunting, and being in West Virginia, I’m quite literally surrounded by it regularly, so I don’t like to see heads on walls. But, the interesting thing is, I think I wouldn’t mind the whole animal because it’s being celebrated as art, rather than a trophy (at least, that’s the way I explain it to myself in my head). Does that make sense? So, though I probably wouldn’t be brave enough to actually wear this necklace, I can really appreciate it as a work of art and craft.

    • It does seem like context is pretty important. A stuffed head on a redneck’s wall meant to be a sign of manliness seems very different than a jewelry-maker lauding a bird head as art. I would say that part of the difference is price, but I imagine that taxidermy is really expensive. And taxidermists should probably be considered artists. And taxidermy collectors aren’t all that different from art collectors, then, right? I get what you’re saying, and it seems like a fine line between what’s acceptable and what’s not.

  4. Tracey says:

    Yes! Should I start saving piles of my own cats’ hair to send off to the lady who weaves the bags?

  5. Kelly says:

    I said for years that when Chihuahua goes, I would have her stuffed, until I found out how much such a thing costs.

    • Consider this a gift certificate for one chihuahua stuffing upon the time of her natural death. Or, you know, her unnatural death, depending on how many problems she continues to cause you.

  6. Alfagirl says:

    Wow, that totally puts my silver deerhead necklace to shame since it’s fake.

    Taxidermy is expensive– I have always wanted a deerhead to put on my wall and they were still a few hundred for decent ones on ebay.

    The bird head necklace is kinda cute, but it’s a little large I think. It doesn’t bother me because ever since I can remember my Dad has had a stuffed pheasant in our family room — with the fall colored feathers, he makes a great centerpiece at Thanksgiving. I think it’s kinda cool.

    Funny sidenote, I used to wear a button on my leather jacket in junior high that said “all of the animals involved in the making of this garment committed suicide.”