Lost Treasures:
Hair Capes of the Shamans


One of the most distinctive ritual objects of the Baja California shamans was a cape made from human hair. (See An Expedition to the Guaycura Nation, Chapter 10) Edward Palmer found such a cape in a burial cave near Bahía de los Angeles in 1887. Later, William Massey and Carol Osborne studied the artifacts from this cave. The hair cape, after being in the Smithsonian Institution and the Hearst Museum in Berkeley, apparently went off to the Anthropological Museum in Mexico City. Its present location is unknown.

Peveril Meigs saw a hair cape in a cave of the Kiliwa Indians of Northern Baja California in 1929.

A.C. Morice, a missionary in British Columbia at the turn of the 20th century, noted that there were hair capes among the Western Déné, and is said to have had two of them in his museum. 

Further, it is unlikely that such a distinctive object developed in Baja California. Hair capes, for example, have been found in the Marquesas Islands.

Where are the hair capes mentioned above now?

Do hair capes appear elsewhere in the world?

Are the appearance of these hair capes in different parts of the world connected?


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