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Table 1 Tsantsa authentication checklist with references

From: The authentication and repatriation of a ceremonial tsantsa to its country of origin (Ecuador)

Category Criteria References Assessment
Skin, 1 Darkened skin color as a result of the shrinking process (Brown, Black, mahogany) Charlier et al. [12], INPC, Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes, lighter coloration where there has been contact
Skin, 2 Skin is thick and possesses leathery texture at the neck opening Charlier et al. [12] Yes
Skin, 3 No facial painting or artistic/ethnic scarring; Several horizontal red bands of achiote may be painted, but these can fade over time Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes; no such painting
Skin, 4 Skin is polished. skin in the surrounding cheek area being smooth with no facial down present, Epidermal degeneration across prominent regions of face (may require IRR) Houlton and Wilkinson [2]; Charlier et al. [12] Yes
Skin, 5 Skins tend to be dense and of considerable weight Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Structure and facial anatomy, 6 Conserved anatomical details of the ear Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes (Fig. 1)
Structure and facial anatomy, 7 No skull bones or bone fragments remain Charlier et al. [12] Yes
Structure and facial anatomy, 8 Head size no bigger than a clenched adult human fist INPC; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Structure and facial anatomy, 9 Although nose and ears do not shrink due to the presence of the cartilage, they are proportional to the rest of the head INPC; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Structure and facial anatomy, 10 Head shape remains with no bones or other external support structures INPC Yes
Structure and facial anatomy, 11 Eyelids are tightly drawn into the head, tightly closed, and possibly sutured shut from the inside Houlton and Wilkinson [2]; Charlier et al. [12] No
Structure and facial anatomy, 12 Oval shape of the neck in cross-section and/or lateral compression of the head; Results in a narrow head, often presenting a pinched impression at the temples Houlton and Wilkinson [2]; Charlier et al. [12] Yes, lateral compression of head with pinched temples (Fig. 2). Roughly oval neck, distorted by mounting
Structure and facial anatomy, 13 Common distortions include the forced extension of the mouth, with distended lips creating a receding chin and an elongated profile Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Structure and facial anatomy, 14 Long narrow face, sloping brow, upturned and spread nose with superiorly pointed nostrils Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Structure and facial anatomy, 15 Separation of the papillary and reticulated layer of the dermis Houlton and Wilkinson [2] No
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 16 Sets of three vertically aligned corresponding holes behind both the upper and lower lips. Possible wooden pegs or vegetal fibers retained in the lips (at a length equal to the scalp hair) Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes, mouth slightly opened
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 17 Loop of wooden vine or fiber sewn into the neck, or traces of suturing and/or sawing present; Necks without supporting neck ring possess a smooth and even edge Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Margin of neck has traces of cutting/sawing
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 18 Neck and head tissues sewn together with fiber stitches on back of head; Sutures are often wide and uneven Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 19 Over and over stitch used Houlton and Wilkinson [2] No
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 20 Long suspension cord overhanging from the top of the head or related hole (CT-Scan only) Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 21 Complete filling of head cavities by sand and/or charcoals during processing Charlier et al. [12] Yes, evenly shrunken head. Possible evidence of charcoal found on newspaper
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 22 Head cut begins where the neck starts, beside the collarbone or as close to trunk as possible INPC; Charlier et al. [12] Yes
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 23 Base of the neck presented as flush Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Rough due to poor preservation, but mostly flush
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 24 Evidence of traditional manufacture process and techniques (cutting, puncturing, sewing, bone removal, scalping, scraping, shrinking, etc.) INPC Yes
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 25 Possible pierced ears (decorated or undecorated); not all tsantsas have pierced ears Houlton and Wilkinson [2]; Charlier et al. [12] No; no hole present
Evidence of traditional Fabrication, 26 Limited evidence of conservation and preservation materials Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Noted; all conservation efforts traced to the US
Hair, 27 Profusion of hairs in the nostrils Charlier et al. [12] Hair Visible
Hair, 28 Long dark scalp hairs (or hairs which have been cut years after the shrinking process) Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Hair, 29 Facial down removed (vellus, downy) Charlier et al. [12]; Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes, on sides of cheeks only
Hair, 30 Distinctive long hairstyle cut in three tiers Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes
Hair, 31 Minor to no nit infestation Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Nits present
Hair, 32 No facial hair -or- facial hair presents, active attempts to remove are identifiable Houlton and Wilkinson [2] Yes, through smoothing
Hair, 33 Head is of human origin INPC Likely human tissue, confirmed hair and skin
  1. INPC Instituto Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural, Ecuador