"they bore the mark of the tumpline across their narrow brows"

Peon with tumpline
Creative Commons AttributionPeon with tumpline - Credit: Jorge Elías
Mexican man carrying blind woman with tumpline
Creative Commons AttributionMexican man carrying blind woman with tumpline - Credit: Jorge Elías

A tumpline is a strap attached at both ends to a backpack or other luggage and used to carry the object by placing the strap over the top of the head, thereby alleviating pressure on the carrier’s shoulders and hips. Indigenous peoples of South and Central America have used the tumpline for thousands of years to transport heavy loads across uneven terrain.