- Title: Experts seek to uncover secrets of Ecuador's 'tsanta' shrunken head
- Date: 16th August 2019
- Summary: QUITO, ECUADOR (AUGUST 16, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF 'TSANTA' SHRUNKEN HEAD INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL HERITAGE, JOAQUIN MOSCOSO (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL HERITAGE, JOAQUIN MOSCOSO, SAYING: "To determine the authenticity of the tsanta and its place in Ecuadoran culture, we have carried out different types of analysis - microbiological, morphological, on its conservation to determine the conditions it was received. Also part of the tsanta's analysis that the National Institute of Cultural Heritage is doing is a DNA analysis to determine its links and cultural affiliations that it may have. This has taken about a year to complete and now we are readying the next steps to delivering the tsanta to the Pumapungo museum with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage." VARIOUS OF RESEARCHER HANDLING CONTAINER WHICH HOLDS THE 'TSANTA' (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) INVESTIGATOR AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL HERITAGE, CARLOS VASQUEZ, SAYING: "It depends a lot on the protocols of the museum and how it is handled, its environment, conditions, because humidity and temperature are very important factors in ensuring that the tsanta be preserved in the best possible way." VARIOUS OF INVESTIGATOR HANDLING 'TSANTA' 'TSANTA' IN CASE INVESTIGATOR SHUTTING DOOR OF CONTAINER HOLDING THE 'TSANTA' (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL HERITAGE, JOAQUIN MOSCOSO, SAYING: "We have seen with a lot of frustration how auction houses have sold (tsantas) in full view of the international community, items belonging to South America's cultural patrimony, including some from Ecuador. So there are many risks and there is a black market for cultural heritage that we must all fight against." VARIOUS OF INVESTIGATOR WITH THE TSANTA
- Embargoed: 30th August 2019 23:22
- Keywords: shrunken head Ecuador shuar Amazon war trophy tsanta Quito
- Location: QUITO, ECUADOR
- City: QUITO, ECUADOR
- Country: Ecuador
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001ASGY3WN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Researchers in Ecuador are investigating the wizened cranium of an Amazon warrior, hoping to unlock the secrets of this macabre pre-Hispanic practice.
The shrunken head, known as the "tsanta", is believed to come from the Shuar, an indigenous people of Ecuador. The head was previously stored in the Vatican for nearly a century before being returned to the Andean nation in 2017.
There is still much to discover about the pre-Hispanic belief of the shrunken head.
A unique mummification process accompanies the "tsanta". According to researchers, the process begins by removing the skull from the neck, cutting off the skin and sewing shut the mouth and nostrils. For shrinking, the head is boiled which works to reduce its original size. The head is then dried with hot rocks and sand that is then moulded to keep its human features in place.
Researchers working on the head's conservation have taken DNA samples before it goes on display at the Pumapungo Museum. No exact date has been given for the age of this "tsanta".
According to archaeologists, the fist-sized capitulum is believed to be a war trophy for the Shuar. It is thought that by shrinking the head it trapped the spirit of the fallen.
(Production: Cristina Munoz)
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