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Aymara Pitek, Emily


The Aymara are located on the Bolivian and Peruvian altiplano near Lake Titicaca. This entry focuses specifically on the ayllu (the Aymara’s largest political unit, roughly comparable to a village or town) near Chucuito, Peru around the time of 1940. Since 1820, the Aymara have been under rule by the Bolivian and Peruvian Republics. Historically, the Aymara have faced pressure by dominant groups, beginning with their conquest by the Inca around 1430, and later the Spanish Conquest in the 1530’s. With the Spaniards came missionaries and the Aymara soon had contact with First Dominicans, Jesuits, Catholics, and Protestants. Spanish Catholicism was particularly influential, and has been incorporated into the Aymara’s traditional beliefs. Consequently, the Aymara have a variety of supernatural beings, including Christian deities (God/Christ, the Virgin, and Saints), as well as aboriginal deities (guardians, place spirits, physiographical and meteorological spirits, and demons). Further, there are several types of religious specialists (see Tschopik, 1951:219d). The paqo (magician) is selected by God, communicates with supernatural beings, practices divination, and leads private rituals and public ceremonies. This entry considers the Aymara religious group to be coterminous with the society itself.

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