A dark secret hides in the Museo Pumapungo

Many of Cuenca’s residents know of Pumapungo museum and think they’ve seen everything it has to offer. Pumapungo is home to a world class collection of art, artifacts, and more than 20 displays that illustrate the variety of Ecuador’s geographic regions. But for many visitors, the main draw is the museum’s collection of shrunken heads from the Shuar people of Amazonia. Historically, in some indigenous cultures, part of a boy’s transition into manhood required that he kill an enemy and make a trophy of his skull, scalp, ears, or—in the case of the Shuar—the hide and hair from the entire…

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