The center of the ax shows a human head with a tiger on either side.  Axes of this type and size were probably used for ritual sacrifices (recall the animals and humans found in Fu Hao's tomb).   During Shang times, human sacrifices to the ancestors accompanied cult ceremonies, the construction of buildings, and the burials of the elite members of society.  Many of these people were probably prisoners of war from the Shang's frequent battles against its neighbors. In addition, subordinates would also voluntarily "accompany" a superior in death.