Hain initiation ceremony in Tierra del Fuego
The South American indigenous group Selk'nam, also known as the Ona, lived in the Patagonian region of southern Chile and Argentina called Tierra del Fuego. The Selknam arrived here 12000 years ago and periodically joined together for the initiation ceremony of their young men. During the ritual, known as Hain, different spirits appeared nude in the snow-covered site, their bodies painted with striking designs and wearing awesome masks. The extraordinary photographs — the only ones existing of Hain — were taken in 1923 by a German anthropologist and priest, Martin Gusinde, at one of the last ceremonies the Selknam held before their extinction. I found the postcards in a small museum in Ushuaia (Argentina) in 1989.
Photos: M. Gusinde 1923


 

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