Glenn Shepard Jr. Ph.D

The moon is bright, the night is giddy with festivities and Shanuiva has emerged from her cage. Jaula, literally “cage,” is how Spanish-speaking Matsigenka refer to the palm leaf enclosure where Matsigenka girls spend their months-long initiation after first menstruation. However, the native Matsigenka word for this rite is far more appropriate: antarotira, “the time during which she becomes an adult.” Shanuiva is pale and lovely, with woven cotton armbands tight around her plump biceps, thick necklaces of beads and animal teeth whispering between her awakening breasts, and a freshly shorn head that gives her the serenity and dignity of Buddhist nun… continue reading.

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