Rite of passage for a young Chanka girl

me and yenifer in uranmarca
This is me in the home of Yenifer, a young Chanka girl in the small village of Uranmarca, site of the Inka way-station for travellers crossing the Pampas River. Yenifer’s parents asked me and my archeologist friend, Brian Bauer, to give Yenifer her first haircut. This is an ancient ceremony — as god parents, Brian and I both gave her funds to start her herd of animals. After we each cut one of her braids, Yenifer’s father put the hair on a small house made of straw in the middle of this room. Then the hair and straw were burned, a sign that her infancy was over. Being part of this event was just one of the many joys of doing fieldwork for my book, The Chankas and the Priest: A Tale of Murder and Exile in Highland Peru.

2 replies
  1. Sonny Head
    Sonny Head says:

    Hello Dr Hyland,
    I doubt you’d remember but I was a student of yours at Columbus State. I just watched a documentary on the Science Channel and there you were. I was taken surprised that I actually knew someone, lol. I enjoyed your class and wish you continued success.

  2. Lu Hersey
    Lu Hersey says:

    Dear Sabine,

    I’ve been reading about your work (and listening to a podcast on Sapiens) – it’s the most interesting thing I’ve read about this year so far. I feel you’re managing to capture the keys to a world that might otherwise be lost forever, and feel immensely grateful that people like you are out there, approaching anthropology and archaeology in a respectful, listening and responsive way. It makes a refreshing change – and of course it works far better. Respect!

    All best wishes,



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