Andean Mesas and Cosmologies

Douglas Sharon


The purpose of the present paper is to focus on aspects of Andean culture-mesas or shamans’ altars-demonstrating how, in ritual contexts, they effectively express grass-roots cosmological principles.

The baseline for this approach was provided by Sharon's (1976) survey of the anthropological literature on Latin American mesas and his suggestion that they often function as projections of indigenous cosmologies (Sharon 1978, 183-196). The current review is an updating of the survey for the Central Andes (Sharon 2006). It includes ethnographic reports from Ecuador, northern Peru, southern Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. Although the information will be grouped into a north-south framework this is not meant to imply a causal relationship.


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