Apr 11, 2016
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Carajía sarcophagi from The Cloud People of Perú

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The Cloud People, Los Pinchudos, Carajía sarcophagi, Perú. CC-BY-SA J F via flickr.

Wikipedia says:

The seven (originally eight) sarcophagi stand up to 2.5 meters tall, constructed of clay, sticks and grasses, with exaggerated jawlines. Their inaccessible location high above a river gorge has preserved them from destruction by looters. However, an earthquake toppled one of the original eight in 1928. They have been radiocarbon dated to the 15th century, coincident with the Inca conquest of the Chachapoya in the 1470s.[2]

The sarcophagi are of a type particular to the Chachapoya called purunmachus. The construction is painted white and overlaid with details of the body and adornment in yellow ochre and two red pigments, such as the feathered tunics and male genitalia visible on the Carajía purunmachus. Often the solid clay head will boast a second, smaller head atop it. The purunmachus of Carajía are unique because of the human skulls that sit atop their heads, visible in the photograph.[3]

  • W. B. Church, “Loving it to Death: The Gran Pajatén Predicament,” Journal of the George Wright Society, vol. 16, iss. 4, pp. 16-27, 2000.
      author    = {Church, Warren B.},
      title     = {Loving it to Death: The Gran Pajatén Predicament},
      year      = {2000},
      volume    = {16},
      number    = {4},
      pages     = {16-27},
      note      = {George Wright Forum special edition "Archaeology and the National Park Idea." Edited by J. H. Jameson. Hancock, MI.},
      url       = {https://anthropology.columbusstate.edu/Pajaten.htm},
      file      = {Church99-GWF.pdf:media/trismegisto/Vitamin/Documents/Bibliography/Church99-GWF.pdf:PDF},
      journal   = {Journal of the George Wright Society},
      timestamp = {2016-07-28},
  • [DOI] K. C. Nystrom, J. E. Buikstra, and K. Muscutt, “Chachapoya Mortuary Behavior: a Consideration of Method and Meaning,” Chungará (Arica), vol. 42, iss. 2, pp. 477-495, 2010.
      author       = {Nystrom, Kenneth C. and Buikstra, Jane E. and Muscutt, Keith},
      title        = {Chachapoya Mortuary Behavior: a Consideration of Method and Meaning},
      journaltitle = {Chungará (Arica)},
      year         = {2010},
      date         = {2010-12},
      volume       = {42},
      number       = {2},
      month        = oct,
      pages        = {477--495},
      issn         = {0717-7356},
      doi          = {10.4067/S0717-73562010000200010},
      url          = {http://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_abstract&pid=S0717-73562010000200010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en},
      urldate      = {2016-04-11},
      abstract     = {The Chachapoya region of northern Perú is characterized by a remarkable range of mortuary customs whose nature is incompletely defined and interpreted. The focus of this paper is to consider a single aspect of Chachapoya mortuary behavior: the presence/absence and method of mummification. Complex, anthropogenic mummy bundles have been recovered from the Laguna de los Cóndores while less well documented and described "cadavers" and bodies have been illustrated from pre-Inca contexts, some contained within anthropomorphic sarcophagi and others located in burial chullpas and open-air sites. In this paper, we provide a general synthesis of Chachapoya mortuary behavior and then present a case study from the mortuary site of Laguna Huayabamba, a Late Intermediate site where mummified remains have been recovered. The relationship between mummified bodies and skeletal remains at this site is viewed as stages within a more unified ritual landscape, structured by continued kin-based access to specific mortuary contexts.},
      file         = {NystromBuikstraMuscutt2010.pdf:media/trismegisto/Vitamin/Documents/Bibliography/NystromBuikstraMuscutt2010.pdf:PDF},
      journal      = {Chungará (Arica)},
      keywords     = {Chachapoya, mummification, Inca},
      shorttitle   = {{CHACHAPOYA} {MORTUARY} {BEHAVIOR}},
      timestamp    = {2016-07-28},


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1 CE to Present · Andean · Sculpture · Western Amazon

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