Same is the case with another FB page ‘Skull Store’: “This is a real antique human skull! This uncut specimen features heavily rotted teeth and a beautiful patina,” reads one of the many offers made by the Toronto-based seller, who has as many as 40,000 followers on the social media.
This may be too macabre for the faint-hearted, but for the traders of body parts, who are under strict monitoring by authorities in many countries, internet is where the business is thriving.
Like all other consumer products, the body parts marketed and sold on these Facebook pages, too, have garnered positive reviews from the buyers, encouraging prospective customers.
“Traders have taken to Instagram as well as Etsy, an e-commerce site dealing with handmade or vintage items, to buy and sell bones. The export seems relatively easy for all types of human remains. Collectors even discuss ways to bypass customs authority,” said Damien Huffer, an anthropologist who has been researching on the trade of human remains through social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
With hashtags like #bonesforsale, #humanbones, #humanskulls, #trophyskulls, #realbone, the business is flourishing on Instagram, attracting thousands of followers interested in collecting skulls and bones.
“Bones are mostly collected by private individuals interested in all types of human remains,” added Huffer. Like there are collectors, there are collectibles as well in this trade. Rare human bones like the ‘Ancestral Puebloan skull – 13th century AD’, ‘Damaru — a drum made from two human skulls’ that have carvings and beads to make it look attractive, are among the most sought after, with a price tag ranging between Rs 50,000 and more than one lakh.
Some collectors, like human_skull_collector (the collector’s username on Instagram) sell off their complete collection – not different from philatelists disposing of their stamp collection.
Barring Bangladesh, not many countries in South Asia seem to be engaged in this trade online. “The only examples of alleged medical specimens that I have seen for sale on Facebook groups from South Asia these days are geolocated in Dhaka. In India where there is a ban, such attempts might be limited to offline,” Huffer told DTNext.