Animal Myth and Magic
Indian societies incorporated animals and animal imagery into ceremony and costume, ritual space and experience, social life and economy. Animals have shaped Andean peoples' vision of themselves, and of their shamans and rulers. They signified prestige, spiritual power, and contact with the supernatural. Animals also figured prominently among the constellations of the southern sky, as characters in myth and folklore, and in acts of divination and sacrifice. These connections forge the most vivid metaphors and icons of Andean ritual and art. Animal myth and magic explores the central place and significance of animals in the Andean cosmovision through the prism of South American archaeology, anthropology, natural history and mythology.
Illustrated with 155 marvellous images from pre-Columbian textiles, this unique anthology discusses over forty-five species, from the hummingbird and butterfly to the llama and jaguar. The depictions - from surreal to naturalistic, are awe-provoking to whimsical, abstract to totemic - span a diversity of habitats and 2000 years of culture (Chavin to Inka). Key themes emerge: the feline, bird and snake shamanic archetypes; a fascination with magical transformation; a pre-occupation with water and fertility in the arid, fragile ecologies of the desert and high sierra; and an intricate visual code based on the signs of the fang, claw, spotted pelt, whisker and wing. The compelling information, the extraordinary inventiveness and variety of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and insects represented in the textile art, provide an outstanding source of reference for all readers intrigued by animal symbolism, Native American art, and the vitality and creativity of the pre-Colombian imagination.