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.

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