At the age of eight, the boys were sent to ritualists, who bathed them, shaved their heads, and gave them animal skins to wear. Eight years later, the initiates underwent a midwinter ceremony in which they ritually died and journeyed to the underworld. After this, the boys left their homes and families, painted their bodies black, donned a dog-skin cloak, and joined a band of warriors.
Brown and Anthony think that similar rites may have taken place at Krasnosamarskoe at the onset of the raiding season, which ran from the winter solstice to the summer solstice. And they speculate that part of the ceremony required the boys to kill their own dogs. The dead canines ranged in age from 7 to 12 years, suggesting that they were longtime companions—possibly even hounds raised with the boys from birth.
"That makes a lot of sense," concludes Brown. To take on the mantle of a warrior, an innocent boy had to become a killer.
National Geographic News has the story: Link (Image: Dorcas Brown)Previously on Neatorama: 6 Strangest Coming of Age Rituals in the World