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Bull. - Inst. Fr. - Et. And.

1978, VII, No. 1-2 pp. 87-103



A b s t r a c t : Andeans have employed metaphors to their land and communities since Inca times.
The author explains the mountain/body metaphor of Qollahuaya Andeans in Kaata, Bolivia.
These Indians live in low, central and high communities on Mount Kaata. These communities are
united not only bu resource and spouse exchange but also by their understanding of Mount Kaata
according to the anatomical paradigm of a human body. This metaphor is expressed in legends,
names of place, earth-shrines, and rituals. The properties of this central symbol are: (1)
completeness- (2) stratification; (3) telluric; and (4) metaphorical. The mountain/body metaphor
indicates another component of the ayllu: it shows how metaphor provides cultural unification for
diverse agricultural levels and different communities in the Andes. The ayllu consists of symbolic
as well as social and economic structures. (Symbolic anthropology, verticality, dominant symbol,
and ayllu).


A distinctive mark of Andean culture is the application of metaphor to land

and society. Andeans think about their territory and communities according to
anatomical paradigms of animals and people. The Huarochiri legends (Ms.
3169) preconquest oral traditions of the Central Andes, spoke of the mountain
as a human body with the summit of the mountain as the head, the central
slopes as the chest and shoulders, and, where two rivers diverge from below
the central slopes, as the crotch and legs. Garcilasc de la Vega (1609)
described Tawantinsuyo, the Inca Empire, in terms of a human body with
Cuzco the navel. Archaelogical evidence suggest Cuzco was designed accor-
ding to the metaphor of a puma (see Rowe 1967:60), and ethnohistorical
documents point to the symbol relationships of people and land in the Andes
(see Zuidema 1964a, 1964b, 1968). Finally, the people of Jesus de Machaca,
a community near Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, still think of their land according to the
parts of a cougar (Albo 1972:788-790).

' " L a t i n American Studies Program of Cornell University funded research for this paper. I comple-
ted this paper at Tulane University where the National Endowment fort the Humanities provided
me with a grant during 1976 and 1977.1 am indebted to these institutions, as well as to Professors
Don Robertson and Arden King of Tulane.

'Asistant Profesor of Anthropology. The University of Texas at Arlington.


Metaphors were, and still are, unifying principles between ecological

levels and groups within the Andes. Approximately 28.000.000 Andean In-
dians live in the highland mountains of Ecuador, Peru. Bolivia and southern
Chile (Bennett 1946:6). They speak Aymara and Quechua and live in distinct
and distant settlements utilizing resources from 4.000 to 17.000 feet along
2 000 miles of Andes. Some unifying factors have been verticality and re-
source exhange. By verticality Murra (see 1972:429-468) means the strategy
of controlling as many distinct niches as possible; in the Andes, altitude is the
great ecological variable. By resource exchange, upper and lower levels are
held together by being parts of an ecosystem wherein there is an exchange of
specialized resources from different microclimates, necessary for each level's
and society's energy demands (see Thomas 1972).

Verticality and resource exchange, however, have become less factors

for cultural and social unification as Andeans are being incorporated into
competitive and cash economies. Vertical exchange is being replaced by
horizontal links (trucks and airplanes) to economic centers where goods are
purchased at competitive prices and sold by middlemen at profitable gain (see
Buechler: 1968; Doughty: 1970). An exclusive concern with political and
economic associations obscures the importance of ideas and symbolic sys-
tems as unifying principles between ecological levels and groups within the
Andes. The following paper's purpose is to investigate a mountain/body
metaphor as a unifying principle between ecological levels and groups living
on the slopes of Mount Kaata in midwestern Bolivia, where I did fieldwork from
January 22 until December 24. 1972.


Mount Kaata is centrally located in the Bolivian province of Bautista

Saavedra. Bautista Saavedra, a province of the Department of La Paz, bor-
ders on the provinces of Muftecas to the south, Larecaja to the southwest.
Caupolican to the north, and Peru to the west. Throughout Bautista Saavedra.
approximately 15,000 Qollahuaya Andeans live on the mountains of the
Carabaya Range, an area about the size of Delaware. Qollahuaya Indians are
a special cultural subgroup of the Aymara nation (Tschopik 1946:1569); they
are renowned throughout the Andes as diviners and herbolists (see Bastien
1973; Girau't 1969; Oblitas 1963, 1968, 1969; Otero 1951; and Ponce

Presently, Bolivian officials divide Bautista Saavedra into the following

political divisions, cantons: Amarete, Charazani, Chajaya, Chullina. Curva
and Kamata. A canton includes several communities spread over a certain
territory, which usually has a central village with a sheriff (corregidor). The
people of each canton elect a sheriff who must be approved by th subcentral
(provincial president) in Charazani, capital of the province.

The Indians of Mount Kaata, however, claim their territory is an ayllu and a
canton: the call it Ayllu Kaata and Canton Santa Rosa de Kaata Kaatans have

historical, social, and cultural reasons for claiming their land is an ayllu and
canton. According to parish records (1777-1794), ayllus of colonial times were
Amarete, Chari, Chullina, Chajaya, Inca, Kaata, Kamata and Upinhuaya. The
political centers of these ayllus were Charazani and Curva, two cities (pue-
blos) built by the Spaniards for religious and political administration of this
region. Charazani and Curva absorbed ayllus Chari, Chullina, and Kaata into
their economic and political jurisdiction by the eighteenth century. Except for a
period of brief autonomy during the political rule of the Movimiento Nacional
Revolucionario from 1953 to 1964 (see Carter 1965: 9-14). The Indians of
Kaata remained part of Canton Charazani, where provincial officials then and
now decide matters for Kaatans. Moreover, these officials manage the stores
and oper.- te the trucks which Kaatans need for purchasing and exchanging
goods. In >rief, political and economic movements tried to destroy the integrity
of Ayllu K i a t a and to subordinate it to Charazani.

Nonetheless, Kaatans insist their mountain has political and social auto-
nomy because traditionally they have thought of their land as an ayllu. Accor-
ding to Qoilahuayas, ayllu means a vertical territory divided into high, center
and low ecological zones, usually with communities settled at each level and
separated from the other ayllus by rivers. Ayllu Kaata, for example, has three
major corimmunities of Ninokorin, Kaata, and Apacheta. Near the base of
Mount Kaata, Ninokorin (11,000 feet) rests on the lower fields of the mountain
(see Figure 1). Ninokorin has 80 families. The northern and southern slopes
of Mount Kaata ascend abruptly from the gorges of the Ayllu and Huruku rivers
(10,500 feet), and between these altitudes narrow riparian stripes produce
corn, wheat, barley, peas and beans. Lunlaya, Quiabaya, Chipuico, and
Jatichulaya are also scattered along both river banks; each settlement has
about ten f imilies. The four settlements are economically and politically inde-
pendent of each other; yet they comprise a single cultural part of Mount Kaata.
Moreover, they are agriculturally, socially and symbolically the lower people of
Mount Kaata as the term Ninokorin means Lower Son.

The community of Kaata (205 families) is nestled on the central slopes

(11,500-14,000 feet) of Mount Kaata. These lands produce potatoes, oca, and
barley in eight large rotative fields. Replicating Ayllu Kaata, community Kaata
consists of three hamlets settled on high, center and low levels of land (see
Insert on Figure 1). A protruding knoll forms the highest hamlet, Kaatapata,
which has 36 families. Several hundred feet lower is a basin which forms the
central villa, Qollahuaya, and contains 30 families. Chagahuaya, the lowest
hamlet, has 139 families. Peruvians migrated to Chaqahuaya about fifty years
ago and divided communities of Ninokorin, Kaata, and Apacheta. Near the
base of Mount Kaata, Ninokorin (11.000 feet) rests on the lower fields of the
mountain (see Figure 1). Ninokorin has 80 families. The northern and southern
sloptls of Mount Kaata ascend abruptly from the gorges of the Ayliu and
Huruku rivers (10.500 feet), and between these altitudes narrow riparian
stripes produce corn, wheat, barley, peas and beans. Lunlaya, Quiabaya,
Chipuico, and Jatichulaya are also scattered along both river banks; each
settlement has about ten families. The four settlements are econonomically

and politically independent of each other; yet they comprise a single cultural
part of Mount Kaata. Moreover, they are agriculturally, socially and symbolica-
lly the lower people of Mount Kaata as the term Ninokorin means Lower Son.

The community of Kaata (205 families) is nestled on the central slopes

(11,500-14,000 feet) of Mount Kaata. These lands produce potatoes, oca, and
barley in eight large rotative fields. Replicating Ayllu Kaata, community Kaata
consists of three hamlets settled on high, center and low levels of land (see
Insert on Figure 1). A protruding knoll forms the highest hamlet, Kaatapata,
which has 36 families. Several hundred feet lower is a basin which forms the
central villa, Qollahuaya, and contains 30 'amilies. Chaqahuaya, the lowest
hamlet, has 139 families. Peruvians migrate d to Chagahuaya about fifty yerars
ago an divided their hamlet into three level ;d settlements: Pachapata - high,
Chaqapampa -central, and Pachaqocha- low. These imigrants integrated
themselves culturally into Ayllu Kaata by adopting the tripartite division of Ayllu
Kaata to their settlement.

The highlands of Mount Kaata (14,000-17,000) are called Apacheta, and

one hundred and twenty Aymara-speaking families live there. These herders
graze alpacas, llamas, sheep, and pigs on clumps of tough bunchgrass
(Festuca scirpifolia). Apechetans go with herds and live in dispersed settle-
ments, spread throughout a vast puna region.

The people of Ninokorin and Kaata speak Quechua, and those of Apa-
cheta speak Aymara. The communities differ in settlement and subsistance
patterns. The communities live far apart; from Ninokorin to Kaata is a two-hour
climb and from Kaata to Apacheta takes z full day.

Nevertheless, social principles and the mountain/body metaphor unite

these different and distant communities into one ayllu. The social principles of
ayllu Kaata not only distinguish the three levels on Mount Kaata but also
integrate the communities on each level into one ayllu.

Patrilineal claim to land provides continuity and permanence on each

level because male descendants remain on their ancestors' land. Men custo-
marily don't marry women from the same level, but rather men marry women
from either of two levels adjacent to their levels (see Bastien 1976). A corro-
llary to exogamous levels and patrilineal claim to land in ayllu Katta is viriloca-
lity. Women, however, inherit access to land from both parents according to
bilineal inheritance customs found throughout ayllu Kaata (see Bastien 1973:
86-115). In many instances, daughters return to their mother's level if they
marry someone from that community,^and they work their mother's land. The
gaining of access to land is one guarantee that women will return to levels from
where women departed in the preceeding generation.

These ritualists can best circulate blood and fat, because they live where the
vital organs of the mountain produce these charged symbols of life and power
Kaata's symbolic position does not mean, however, that communities outside
of ayllu Kaata conceive of it as being the center of the universe, or think of
Kaata as the heart and bowels of the body universe, but that Kaatans' concep
tion of their ayllu, according to three levels and a human anatomical paradigm,
places Kaata community at the center and the inside of the whole.

From the center of the mountain, the slopes slant up to form the moun
tain's chest (kinre). The right breat is Tit Hill (Nuno Orgo); its knob is shaped
like a nipple. The highlands are the head (uma). Bunchgrass grows near the
summit of the mountain, as hair on the head. The llamas graze on this grass,
and their wool resembles human hair. As new hair grows after cutting so do
llama wool and bunchgrass continually arise in the highlands. Similar to the
regeneration of human hair, llamas originate in the highland lakes, or its eye
(riawi), according to Kaatans' belief. The sun dies into these eyes of the
highlands, but from the reflections within the lake come all living creatures. The
lake's reflections (ilia) are the animals and people returning from inside the

Animals and people originate from and return to the head of the mountain
It is the place of origin and return, like the human head which is the point of
entry and exit for the inner self. The dead travel by underground waterways to
the mountain's head (uma pacha) from where they can arise to the land of the
living. The living emerge from the eyes of the mountain, journey across ils
head, chest, trunk, and legs, and die in the lowlands. They are buried and
return with the sun to the uma pacha, point of origin and return.
Apachetans' home near the summit of the mountain qualifies them to be
the ritualists of the lakes and the dead. These highland herders travel to Kaal a
and Ninokorin for the Feast with the Dead. After praying for the dead and
receiving bread, they carry the dead's food to the highlands. A highland herder
feeds Lake Pachaqota a llama fetus during the major herding ritual of / I I
Colors. Kaatan diviners assist Apachetans in this ritual by prophesying from
guinea pigs, and Ninokorins bring chicha (corn beer) to the highlands.

The dispersed settlement pattern of pastoral Apachetans resembles the

differentiated face: Jawueca is the hair; Ch'uyuni (four families) is the right eye
and Zaqtalaya (six families) is the left eye. Ch'uyuni and Zaqtalaya resemble
eyes since each has large lakes. Water holes are necessary for livestock, and
alpacas need the softer marsh areas to keep their hooves from cracking.

Wayra Wisqani (Door of the Wind), a cavity within the earth from which air
arises, is the mouth. Whenever it rains too much, mountain ritualists feed a
llama heart into Wayra Wisqani so that its breath will blow the rain clouds
Flowing from the summit, the Chari and Kunochayuh rivers, form the mak i
(hand to elbow) of Mount Kaata. The right arm is ayllu Chari and the left arm is
allyu Upinhuaya. Although Chari and Upinhuaya have formed ayllus, Kaatans
still consider them as parts of their ayllu, and they participate in Mount Kaata's
rituals. Upinhuayan women are the major ritualists for dispelling misfortun
and inflicting curses. During the Misfortune Mass, Rosinta Garcia washed a rat
fetus into the Kunochayuh River so as to remove sickness from the Ya


The people of Ninokorin, Kaata and Apacheta are also united because
they are part of a mountain/body metaphor. These Indians name the places of
the mountain according to their position within the human body, and these
places set far apart on Mount Kaata, are organically united.

The anatomical paradigm for ayllu Kaata does not correspond entirely to
geography, ecological zones and communities. The metaphor involves imagi-
nation, ability to understand meanings of Andean languages, embellishment
by oral tradition, and, most of all, the external application of the metaphor in
ritual. The following interpretations of the mountain Kbody metaphor were
derived from analysis of marriage and settlement pa'terns, ethnohistorical
documents, native informants, and participation in thirte >n rituals (see Bastien

The organic wholeness projected on the comunities originate from Kaa-

tans' understanding of their physical body. The body (uqhuntin) is all the parts
and only these parts in as they form one inner self. Kaat^ns do not conceptua-
lize interior faculties for emotions and thoughts as aistinct from corporal
organs. Tather, they refer to their bodies as within or in. ide (uqhu). The body
includes the inner self, and experiences are not dual ; stically perceived as
those of the psychic and those of the body.

Without this dualism of material and spiritual or corporeal and interior,

then, Kaatan ritual does not intercede with the spiritual in behalf of the material;
rather, ritual composes both terms into one. Kaatan religion is not conceptual
nor does it contain a world of spirits, but is a metaphorical relationship with their
land. Kaatans, for example, do not pray to the mountain to appease its
spirit rather they feed the mountain blood and fat to vil tlize and empower it.
Ritual involves them physically with the mountain. The nountain is their land
and their divinity.

Andeans understand their body asagestalt, and the suffixnf/'n of aqhuntin

expresses this completeness. When Andeans add ntin to a word, it means
transformed wholenesss. Tawantinsuyo as the Andean name for the Inca
empire. It meant the four (twa) places (suyo) in so much as they were distinct
yet united (ntin). The solidarity of the Inca empire was its similarity to a human
body, as Garcilaso de La Vega, an early chronicler of Inca blood, wrote:

The Inca Kings divided the Empire into four districts, according to the cardinal points, the
whole of which they called Tawantinsuyo, which means the four parts of the world. The center was
Cuzco, which, in the Peruvian language, means the navel of the world. This name was well
chosen, since Peru is long and narrow like the human body, and Cuzco is situated in the middle of
its belly... (ed. 1961: 5 7 ) . . . the inhabitants of Upper-Cuzco were to be considered as the elder,
and those of Lower-Cruzco as the younger brothers. Indeed, gt was as it is in the case of a living
body, in which there always exists a difference between the .right hand and left hands.

All the cities and all the villages in our empire were subsequently divided in this way into upper
and lower lineages, as well as into upper and lower districts (ed. 1961:45).

The communities and land compose the parts of Mount Kaata's body, and
they form the mountain's inner self, which is like a center whose axis simulta-
neously touches every point. The points suspend the axis and yet are always
in touch with the center. Apacheta, Kaata, and Ninokorin are different levels on
the mountain body, and their position is wahat constitutes the mountain's inner
self. The inner self then gives its life to the parts.

Blood and fat empower the body: blood (yawar) is the life principle and fat
(wira) is the power principle. The are different bloods - strong, weak, frighte-
ned, and dried up. Qollahuaya medicine mean always feel the sick person's
pulse to determine the type of blood. They prescribe distinct herbs for each
type; for example, a person with strong blood (violent temper) may drink mate
of Luriwichu to dilute or weaken the blood. Juan Wilka, a Kaatan curei
diagnoses Elsa Yanahuaya's blood: "Your blood is water; go to the doctor ti
have it removed and new blood injected". Elsa feared that a landslide hac.
taken her blood and replaced it with water. Landslides, floods, and turbulent
streams wash the land away; and water, instead of blood, flowing through the
body is associated with loss of land - as well as death. The association is that
Kaatans refer to their ancestral line as blood neighbors (yawar masikuna) an<'
that blood is a symbol of claim to land. An important gesture of the agricultural
ritual is to sprinkle the earth with blood, vitalizaintg the land with the animals
principle of life as well as ratifying a kinship relationship with the mountair

The most important part is the heart (songo). It pumps the blood through
the body. The heart is thought, intentions, and emotions. Sonqos are sad>
happy, and sick; and to determine the heart of another person, the diviner
places a guinea pig's mouth next to the person's heart to read its content. The
person's heart is symbolically transferred to the pig's heart, which is then read
revealing the type of heart in the person.

Fat (wira) empowers the body, and the bowels produce the fat Wiragocha
(sea of fat) was the name of an important divinity and emperor. The powerful
Spaniards were called Wiraqocha, and today Kaatans call white people by the
same name. The bowels include the liver, pancreas, kidneys, stomach, and
intestines. At the planting ritual of New Earth Sarito, the major ritualist of Ayllu
Kaata, reads the llama's heart and bowels to determine the agricultural life
(blood) and political power (fat) of the ayllu (see Bastien 1973:160-218).

Kaata is the viscera of the mountain body (see Figure 2). Its central lands
yield potatoes and oca, root plants, grown inside the earth, just as the viscera
gives vitality and power to the person. The hamlets are joined together as are
the vital organs surrounding the heart: Kaatapata, the oldest and highest of
these hamlets, form the liver where the ayllu's central chapel is located, and
the secretaries (the dominant political leaders for the entire ayllu) constitute
the heart. The eight large rotative fields fold like thick layers of fat aroun'J Kaata
Kaata's place on the mountain geographically qualifies its people to be
the major ritualists for the aylly body, the Qollahuaya area, and the Andes.

nahuaya family (Bastien 1973: 220-251). Upinhuayans are ritualists of the

river who can remove as well as cause, misfortune.

Mount Kaata's lower fields are the chaqi (foot to knee) and the indenta-
tions on the river are the sillu (toenails). The long narrow fields run parallel to
the rivers descending on them. The left leg is Ninokorin (eighty families) and
the right is Quiabaya (fifteen families). The sillu are at the periphery of Mount
Kaata where it joins at its lowest points with ayllus Chari and Upinhuaya. The
two small settlements of Silij (four families) and Jatichulaya (three families) are
the left toenails, and Lunlaya (fifteen families) forms the toenails. Many more
sillu, however, naturally arise every time the rivers subside after flooding.
The lower fields produce corn, and corn is fermented into chicha. Chicha
is the sacred drink of the Andes, although it has more recently been replaced
by sugarcane alcohol. The mountain and its people drink chicha during all
rit ial occasions. Nihokorin's people take care of the lower fields, not only by
ac 'iculture, but also by ritual to guarantee abundant corn for the mountain. The
lo\ i/er peoples annually feed their shrines at the feast of Corn Planting, which is
similar to New Earth. Apachetans contribute a llama and Kaatans bring blood
and fat to the corn planting ritual at Ninokorin.

The mountain as a human body is a way Kaatans think about their ayllu.
They love metaphors between people and nature, and the association may be
rei emblance of parts, similar use, or identical words. Uma, for example,
means head in Quechua and water in Aymara. This double meaning fits their
syi ibolic understanding of Apacheta. Kaatans are alive to the multiple inter-
- pretations of behavior, words, and natural phenomenon. They compared my
beard to the rays of the sun, but they were also associating it with heart,
because I was always confusing heart (songo) for beard (sonk'a). They later
explained, howerver, that I had spoken correctly, since Kaatan pictographs
depict the sun with a beard for its rays and a heart for its center.


Mount Kaata has twelve earth-shrines, and each shrine is interpreted

according to its association with an ecological level and the body metaphor
(see Figure 3). The three community shrines are Chaqamita, Pachaqota, and
Jatun Junch'a. Chaqamita, located to the east near the legs, is related to the
sun's birth, fertility and corn, making it a suitable shrine for Ninokorin and
Quiabaya, whose Corn Planting rite reverences this site. This lower lake is
also a shrine for Curva and Chullina, neighboring ayllus. Eauthshrines, when
shared by several ayllus, religiously unite separated mountains, and so Qo-
llahuayas claim that they are one people because they worship the same
shrines. Pachaqota, a large lake on the head, is the "ye" into which the sun
sinks; it symbolizes death, fertilization, and llamas. Apachetan herders cele-
brate All Colors on the shores of Pachaqota.

The Great Shrine (Jatun Junch'a). associated with the liver and Kaata,
\ lies in the hamlet of Kaatapata. This is also the major shrine of the mountain,
because of its central location and physiography. Kaatapata rests on a spur,
which rises from the slopes and resembles a small mountain. The Great

Shrine is nourished atlthe rite of Chosen Field; it is also the site of a mock battle
(tinku) between the elders and clowns of Carnival. The clowns, who sprinkle
people with water, are symbolically put to death by the elders slinging ripe fruit
at them. Usually the youth join the clowns in open conflict with the adults, and
sometimes both groups rally against the women, who invade the courtyard
with cornstalks, beating the males to the ground.

Similar ritual battles are fought in other places; the Aymaras of the
Bolivian altiplano, for example, wage theatrical warfare between the upper and
lower divisions of the community. Tinku emphasizes the importance of con-
trasting pairs, and in the Andes almost everything is understood in juxtaposi-
tion to its opposite (Duviols 1974). Earth-shrines are also interpreted accor-
ding to binary opposition. Chaqam ta and Pachaqota, for instance, correspond
to life and death, and each term t <plains the other; moreover, each leads to
the other.

The highlands, central, and lowlands have community shrines reflecting

their ecological zones; but from the viewpoint of the ayllu, the community
shrine is only one part of the bod • metaphor. In some way every level must
feed all the mountain's shrines during the ayllus rites, such as New Earth.
Apachetans, for example, contribute a llama fetus to the lower eastern shrine,
just as Ninokorins supply chicha to feed the highland shrine. Although the
shrines are located on specific levels of the mountain, they are part of the total
religion of the mountain.

In addition to wholistic consioerations, earth-shrines have specific mea-

nings. Earth-shrines are stratified according to levels of land, social groupings,
time and historical epochs. The patrilineage has its household shrines dug into
the inside and outside of the house; the community has its shrine correspon-
ding to its level on the mountain; ind the ayllu has its twelve shrines on the
whole mountain. Corresponding iO these stratified shrines are distinct, yet
similar, rituals. Moreover, there are certain times when these shrines are fed
by specific rites and specialized ritualists, carefully skilled in such matters.


Earth-shrines are symbols of unification for ayluu Kaata because they

recall the mountain/body metaphor. Symbols are objects and events of An-
dean unification if they are understood by the majority as naturally typifying or
recalling something by possession of analogous qualities (see Turner
1967:19). The mountain, for example, is a triangular land mass, which signifies
for all Kaatans, ideas about their body, society, land, time, and history. Their
rituals recall the similarities and relationships between the mountain and
corporeal sickness, lineag^, marriage exchange, and ayllu solidarity. The
polysemic property (see Turner 1967:28) of the mountain, a dominant symbol,
refers to the diversification and completeness of biological, lineage, social and
ecological complexity within ayllu Kaata. Symbol mountain is a dynamic entity
whose meaning relates to what is done to it and for whom (Turner 1967:46), but

only to a degree can ritualists use the concrete symbol for their corporeal
lineal and communal needs. Although community Kaata, for example, divides
itself in three levels according to the mountain ^body metaphor, it does not
become the mountain nor the body, which are the dominant symbol, which
possesses considerable autonomy with regard to the aims of the rituals in
which it appears.

The mountain /body metaphor is also an imporotant unifying principle by

its high degree of constancy and consistency through the total symbolic
system of the Andes, "exemplifying Radcliffe-Brown's proposition that a sym
bol recurring in a cycle of rituals is likely to have the same significance in each
(Turner 1967:31). "Although the mountain/body metaphor appears in distinct
rituals and social contexts, it is associated with con tant and consistent
Andean cultural themes, such as theree levels, uma oacha, and cyclical
reciprocity. For Qollahuagas, the mountain / body metaphor is repeated
throughout the Andes; other Andeans live on similar mountains with earth
shrines and theree levels which are metaphorically understood. Moreover
Qollahuaya ritualists perform their rituals throughout the A ndes; consequently
the mountain/body metaphor has cultural significance tor other Andeans as
well. It cannot be concluded from Kaatan rituals alone the' the mountain f:body
metaphor is a dominant symbol thoughout the total symbolic system of the
Andes. The staircase sign, however, is a motif found in the buildings and
weavings of the Andes from early Tiahuanaco to present times, and Posnast y
(1:102) writes that it is a s dominant a symbol to Andeans as the cross is to
Christians. This design resembles a square stool with three steps, associated
with three levels of land and the mountain. Oral traditions, such as those found
in Kaata and Huarochiri, speak about the mountain/body metaphor. The
people are saved from the flood by going to the top of the mountain. The main
divinity, Pariya Qaqa, is the red powder rock born on top )f the mountain. The
important ritual site of Tiahuanaco had three leveled shr nes, symbolic of the
highlands, central, and lowlands of the mountain. Doorways, narrow at the top
were positioned to look out at the mountain, framing the shrine. All Andeans
still feed the levels of the mountain, as they ascend and descend it, and rituals
similar to Kaatans' are practiced throughout the Andes. The mountain is
important to Andean symbolic systems, and it is one dominant symbol cultura
lly unifying the distant groups and leveled communities.

Victor Turner (1967:30) lists the properties of the dominant symbol of the
Ndembu as: (1) condensation; (2) unification of disparate meanings in a single
symbolic formation; and (3) polarization of meaning. Ndembu and Andean
dominant symbols share the similar property of being polysemic. The moun
tain/body metaphor however, reflects the complexity of Andean civilization by
leveled shrines on the mountains, which distinguish specific meanings rathe
than condense diverse meanings. The mountain, which refers to complete
ness by its wholeness, alo has many-layered references associated with a
specialization and a particular people, who live there.

A property of the mountain/body metaphor is stratification, rather than

condensation. The metaphor stratifies levels of land, social groupings, time
and historical epochs. The lineage has its household shrines dug into the
inside and outside of the house; the community has its shrine corresponding to
its level on the mountain; and the ayllu has its twelve shrines on the whole
mountain. Corresponding to these stratified shrines are distinct, yet similar,
rituals. Moreover, there are certain times when these shrines are fed by
specific rituals and ritualists, carefully skilled in these matters. At other times
and places, the saints and Catholic rituals are performed by Catechists and
priests. Kaatans do not mix Catholic with Andean symbols, but rather set each
into the mountain with its distinct shrines. The chapel lies in the center of the
community; it is the place of the two fiestas of the saints with a mass and
procession. The cross has been placed on the high pass, where the l >ad of
tiredness is dispelled.

The levels of the mountain made it possible to place tiie symbols of

various symbolic systems imposed upon it through history into its earth.
Tiahuanaco, Inca and Spanish have their symbols set into the earth on Mount

The mountain/body metaphor is also telluric, which means that Ls pri-

mary association is with the earth and its natural manifestations. Andoans,
for example, incorporated the Catholic symbolic system, which is conceptual,
theological, and belief orientated, by stratifying in into the places ot the moun-
tain, which continued to be associated with the earth. The deeper Andean
meanings were still associated with the mountain. The polysemic nature of the
Andean symbol allowed it to express two distinct meanings for two civiliza-
tions. Once the civilization passed over the mountain, like the sun, its symbols
remained, not with their conceptual component, but with their icons set into the
earth. The mountain is more basic to Andean civilizations than histc ical
epochs. Qollahuayas express this in their pictograph of the sun, which has a
little sun, Inca staff, and cross woven inside of it. The same sun has passed
over the same mountain, containing within its signs of sequential events.

Andean religion has a tradition of telluric symbolism, such as the sacred

geography of Tiahuanaco and Cuzco. Their oral tradition speaks of the divini-
ties as incarnating into rocks (Huarochiri ms.), and a large rock was the
principal shrine for important pre-Columbian rituals on the altiplano (Bandelier
1910:237). Pachamama, Mother Earth, is always toasted before any Andean'
drinks a beverage. The natural configurations of rocks typify animals and
people. Passes, waterholes, rivers, mountains, lakes, rocks, and caves are
ritual sites-

The telluric quality of Andean symbols enables them to be metaphors of

the ecological order. Kaatan rituals show that it is the seasonal cycle of their
land which is the metaphor for their understanding of self and society. The
death rituals associate the living and the dead with the growing and rest
phases of the rotative fields, as well as the sun passing over the mountain
during the day, and underneath it at night.

Agricultural rituals correspond to the changes on the mountain. The

leaders of their society understand themselves as circulating the blood and fat
to the parts of the mountain, understood as a body. Kaatans' sense of time and
history is understood in terms of the mountain, its levels and cycles. The word
for earth, pacha, is also the word for time and history. Social cycles of growth
and decay are also understood in terms of the cycles and levels of the
mountain. When Ninokorin was usurped by Charazani's governor, Kaatans
fought for 200 years, knowing that they too were involved in restoring the

Andeans consider the analogous qualities of themselves and their sym-

bols. The ideas naturally associated with the mountain are in exchange with
the ideas associated with themselves. Their symbols change as they grow, or
as they say, "places become persons, and persons become places". The
telluric property of the mountain, which changes with the seasons, suites it to
be a symbol reflecting ecologically the personal, social, and cultural cycles of
growth and decay.

Kaatans do not understand inner self as distinct from outer self; conse-
quently, the gap between experiences of self and experiences of the world is
narrowed. The ecological order of land and nature can more readily be a
metaphor for their personal and social order, and vice versa.

Most Andeans live on mountains with similar ecological orders, which are
the basic metaphors for themselves and their society. It is in this sense that the
mountain/body is a dominant symbol for the Andes, which unifies its demo-
graphic and ecological diversity.

The properties of the mountain/body metaphor would be: (1) complete-

ness: expressing the integrity of the ayllu; (2) stratification into distinct mea-
ning areas, corresponding to social, temporal, and historical references; (3)
telluric, primarily associated with the earth; and, (4) metaphorical, which looks
to analogous qualities of natural and cultural orders.

The mountain/body metaphor indicates another component of the ayllu: it

shows how metaphor provides cultural unification for diverse agricultural
levels and different communities in the Andes. The three communities of ayllu
Kaata, for example, were not only united by social principles and resource
exchange but also by territorial and metaphorical unity. The ayllu, in other
words, consists of symbolic as well as social and economic structures.


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