The Magic Animals of Tierradentro - Magic of Whom? (Los Animales Mágicos De Tierradentro - Magia De Quién?)
Elias Sevilla Casas
Universidad del Valle
International Journal of South American Archaeology - IJSA, Forthcoming
The paper discusses the issue of aesthetic representations of archaeological origin and their interpretation by archaeologists who dare to make scientific inferences on the meaning such works may have had for the original audiences. The empirical referent are the "magic animals of Tierradentro ceramics", interpreted by archaeologist Alvaro Chaves. Since he is very scant in the description of his inferential process, the attention is turned onto the inferences made by Reichel-Dolmatoff concerning some stone statues of San Agustin. The topics are connected because Reichel took the "Nasa (Paez) mythology" of Tierradentro as starting point for his creation of the jaguar-shaman complex that became famous in the world archaeological literature. The paper follows the idea of a Canadian anthropologist (Marie France Labrecque), who reacted to Michael Taussig's Shamanism, colonialism and the wild man: a study in terror and healing is this way: "The author, verbose, does not spare any circumvolution in reasoning. He does not loose any occasion to provoke the reader noting once and again that, as far as knowledge is power, analysis of this power can be seen as a magical rite. In this sense, the anthropologist is doubtless a constituent part of the contradictory process of colonization and becomes himself a shaman".
Keywords: Magic, Shamanism, Jaguar, Scientific Inference, Archaeology, San Agustín, Tierradentro
JEL Classification: N01, Z00
Date posted: October 16, 2007 ; Last revised: November 14, 2007