from Greek anthropos (human) and phagein (to eat)
Scientific term to indicate the practice of cannibalism, a phenomenon once common in many a human society. Contrary to popular opinion, anthropophagy has not only been practiced by so-called primitives or savages, nor only during the Stone-Age or merely in the jungles of New Guinea, Africa or South-America.
Among the known adherents of such ritual feasting were peoples from all over the planet, including Europe:
Aztecs, Anglo-Saxons, Burmese, Chinese, Germanic Gauls, Indians, Indonesians, Irish and mainland Celts, some Native American tribes, Philippinos, Romans, Scandinavians, Spaniards, Tibetans and many others.
Considering this, no one really needs to feel ashamed for her or his people’s history - although many seem to feel that way - or to invent elaborate lies denying its existence. Cannibalism is simply a fact of human history - and it is also practiced among other species of predators.
A most special treat for the cannibal is the consumption of human brain; by eating it people thought to acquire the dead person’s lifeforce, intelligence, daring and strength. According to author Oscar Kiss-Maerth, the eating of brain, from monkey or human, clearly has aphrodisiac effects. In fact, Kiss-Maerth tried monkey himself in order to establish the truth of the matter.
In India, within the circles of Tantra, the flesh of a sacrificed human is known as mahamamsa (Skt., maha, "great"; mamsa, "meat"). The term occurs in the Nila Tantra when the text discusses various types of sacrifice. It does not actually refer to the consumption of the flesh, yet usually the term mamsa is used for meat that is eaten during certain rituals. The existence of the terms mamsakapala (Skt.) and thod-pa sha-chen (Tib.), both meaning skull cup filled with human flesh, certainly adds an interesting dimension to this discussion.
Cannibalism even has a rather universal symbol, namely the outstretched, lolling tongue. This statement is based on extensive research done by Wolfgang Winter (1948) who has accumulated much evidence for this [hiterto unpublished]. Naturally, this does not contradict other theories concerning the lolling tongue, but simply adds to our understanding of this strange and widespread phenomenon.