03 October 2011

The Sarcophagi of Karajía, Peru

The sarcophagi at Karajía, near Chachapoyas in northern Peru, stand high on a cliff, inaccessible to all but birds. The whole mountainside used to contain these tombs, but earthquakes over the last thousand years have taken their toll. These reminders of Chacapoyan culture pre-date the Incas.

An eerie place. The sarcophagi stand guard, strange and silent; the brittle bones of humans lie in places right next to the path.

Off to Kuelap in less than an hour. 

[1 October 2011 [Ecuador], Panasonic Lumix GH1, 100–300 mm at 300 mm, ISO 200, 1/500 at f5.6]  

All content © 2011 Pete McGregor


Zhoen said...

Each one with personality, which the skulls now lack. Third from the right looks like the joke teller.

pohanginapete said...

Zhoen, a good point. I wonder whether the sculptors intended to reflect something of the subject's personality?

robin andrea said...

My inlaws came for a visit from Hawaii last week, and brought with them thousands of photos of their travels in South America. There is something about those images and these that you have been posting that makes me want to go there. I told my inlaws that I would be happy just to dust the steps of Machu Picchu everyday. Here, I would be glad to smile at those brittle bones and whisper my good mornings until my bones joined theirs.

pohanginapete said...

Robin, I won't be visiting Machu Picchu, but I think you'd find Karajía and Los Pueblos de los muertes (what a name, and what a remarkable place!) just as moving; perhaps more so. These are from the Chachapoyas culture, which pre-dates the Incas and so confers an even stronger sense of age and mystery.

Lydia said...

A remarkable image, Pete. I never imagined anything quite like this.

pohanginapete said...

Lydia, unfortunately, the viewpoints are so limited that photographs like this are common; I couldn't find a way to see it differently. This is where words have the advantage.

Kinga Winnicka said...


I reblogged the photo of Carajia sarcophagi on my blog with your copyright info:

[It's basic information about the Chachapoya culture (in Polish)].

I hope you don't mind but I'll of course remove the photo in case you do.

Best wishes!

pohanginapete said...

Hi Kinga,
That's fine, and thanks for including my info. The photograph looks good on your page and it's nice to know it has a wider audience.

Kinga Winnicka said...


I'm glad to hear that it's OK with you!
The photos on your blog are really beautiful - I especially enjoy posts about South America.

(BTW, I'm an archaeologist interested in ancient Peru and my blog is dedicated to organizing a trip to this region of the world).

pohanginapete said...

Thank you, Kinga — glad you like the photos.

I wrote about my visit to Chachapoyas on my other blog; you might find it interesting. The post includes some other photographs, including one of the Chachapoyas shield at Karajia.

Kinga Winnicka said...

Thanks for the link. I like your perspective very much.