First things first, I am incredibly excited as we are into the final countdown to publish Those Below, due to the efforts of my beautiful, helpful, patient, and tech-savvy wife. If you have stumbled upon this website prior to October 15, 2018, then I apologize that you will have to wait just a little longer to read the book. I promise to keep the spoilers to a minimum.
Anyway, with that bit of housekeeping out of the way, I wanted to use today’s post to talk about the body modification that I portray in Those Below. The churches that I talk about, the Condor, Serpent, and Jaguar are based in reality, but I made up some of the specifics. Similarly, the body modification which I describe in the book is actually based in fact but somewhat exaggerated for the purposes of the story. Interestingly enough, however, is that the intentional deformation, such as elongating the head and neck of the Condor priests by strapping boards to children as they grew is actually factual. It was a fairly common practice not just among the Inca, but several other Andean cultures and can be seen regularly in the mummies found throughout the region.
Ritual tattoo art was also an important part of the culture. Though I made the specifics up to fit the story, the style and degree of tattoo art are based in fact. Interestingly enough, when I talk about dying their bodies with ochre that is a modification of what they would actually do. I used ochre because it is a more commonly known practice thanks to several studies and documentaries which have been done on African tribes which conduct ritual body painting. However, in reality, the rainforests of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador supply an incredible wealth of natural dyes which are significantly more potent and effectively permanent once applied. The most important of these is actually a blue color which was regularly applied to large portions of the body.