The Andean Mummy Child

March 18th, 2010 Posted in culture, travel

Written by Shanie

Pictures courtesy of the MAAM Museum

This story is based on the life of a fifteen year old girl, The Maiden, who was found in 1999 on the top of Mount LLlullaillaco, in northern Argentina. Her remains, treasures and story are displayed and protected at the Museum of High Altitude Archaeology, in the city of Salta, Argentina. Her spirit is still remembered by the native Calchaqui people. You can find out more about her and other mummies that were found high in the Andes Mountains of Argentina at www.maam.org.ar.

I have been chosen to die. The feeling of joy brings tears to my face. I am honored to be sacrificed and help the gods give my people a good harvest.

They call me The Maiden. I am fifteen and live with the Chosen Women in the house of prayer. The year is 1400 AD and we are the Inca people. We wander the grass fields, thick forests and gigantic mountains of the southern hemisphere. We have waged many wars and have conquered much of this continent.

When I was young I was taken from my family. The king’s servants came for me and said that because of my beauty I was to live with the Chosen Women. Though I miss my family, I love being one of the Chosen.

We are the most beautiful and wanted ladies in all the land. We do important jobs such as making the thick, colorful blankets, clothing and hand sewn items that are offered to our beloved leader and the gods that make our life better. We also brew the festive drink that is shared among the townspeople for the many ceremonies that we have.

But our life has taken on an air of excitement recently.

The leader of the Inca people sent word by messenger to each of the five Inca territories. There is to be an offering to the gods for the Royal Obligation, the sacrifice for a good harvest. The king has decided that I am to be the offering.

The buzz of town is stirring and bringing everything into a hum of excitement, even the wandering community dogs are excited. All of a sudden my life is very busy. The girls of my home are making special wine in my honor. The drink will be shared among the parade of people that will join us on our journey.

I am fit with an elegant brown dress that is tied with a bright and colorful belt with crimson fringes. A grey shawl with red stripes is fitted to my shoulders and a carved silver pin is made to hold the rough fabric together. Special necklaces and bracelets of silver and bone are created to go with the beautiful shawl pin. My hair is brushed, smoothed with animal fat and braided into two tight braids that hang down my back; my style of braids and hair ornaments will help other villages know where I am from. The older women then show me how to put on the scarlet make-up that will help impress the gods when I am high on the summit of the mountain. Lastly, I am fitted for the crown headdress that is made from sacred white feathers.

The elders say that the trip must begin tonight after the Royal Obligation ceremony. There I will be asked to walk in circles around the center of the Inca world, located in the town square. Animals will also be sacrificed to protect our journey.

The travel will take many, many weeks. Priests and their helpers will walk with me to the final resting place. To make the gods happy we must walk in a straight line and not use the normal walking paths. We will stay, eat and celebrate in the small villages that we pass along the way until we meet the giant wall of the Andes Mountains.

The protectors of the king will be carrying my treasure that will be offered beside me. There are sparkling rubies, sapphires and diamonds, thick, soft, brightly-colored blankets, gold, silver, and fancy shells. Small dolls that look like the horses and people of my village will ride in the treasure box, helping me safely make it to my new home in the castles of the Almighty.

I am told that I will be given a special corn drink that will help me fall asleep. When I awake I will be with the great gods of the mountains. My people and I believe that I will not die but, instead, am going to help the gods give us plenty of food and rain.

The moment has come and our journey is to start. My procession of strong men, holy priests, powerful horses, and smiling, cheering locals is ready. Butterflies twitter excitedly in my belly. My time has arrived. I am so happy that I am the chosen one. This is my destiny. And forever more everyone will know The Maiden, for she is the one that helped our harvests be plentiful for generations.

  1. 3 Responses to “The Andean Mummy Child”

  2. By Rebecca Ley on Mar 1, 2012

    I work at the British Museum in the membership department. We recently filmed a lecture given by the Museum’s head of Americas curator, Colin McEwan, in which he used the photograph above of the red llama. I would like to ask your permission to use this image in our video publication. If you are so kind as to give us permission, please could you email me at friends@britishmuseum.org to provide us with an appropriate credit line and to discuss this further.
    Many thanks,
    Rebecca Ley
    British Museum Friends

  3. By Rebecca Ley on Mar 1, 2012

    We are also hoping to use the photo above of the crown headdress in our video publication. Please do get in tocch to discuss this further.
    Many thanks,
    Rebecca Ley
    British Museum Friends

  4. By Flight Simulator Cockpits on Nov 1, 2012

    Thank you for another great post. Where else could anyone get that type of info in such a perfect way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

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