Namakubi 生首 - A freshly-severed (human) head.
Namakubi first started to make their appearances during the Edo period (1603-1868) in ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) and can still be found today in irezumi (traditional Japanese tattoos).
While grotesque and brutal, these images were not just used to frighten and shock but as an element of Rinne-Tensho (reincarnation) to illustrate how life comes full circle. They also represent the impermanence of life moreover a willingness to accept one’s fate with honor.
Namakubi is additionally used to exhibit courage or bravery, respect for an enemy, fearlessness, or even as a warning.