Miniatures and Stones in the Spiritual Economy of the Virgin of Urkupinña in Bolivia

Sanne Derks, Willy Jansen and Notermans Catrien

in Things

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239450
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239498 | DOI:

Series: Future of the Religious Past (FUP)

Miniatures and Stones in the Spiritual Economy of the Virgin of Urkupinña in Bolivia

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This chapter discusses the role of stones and alasitas (miniature representations of desired objects, such as cars, houses, or money) in the “spiritual economy” built around the pilgrimage to the Virgin of Urkupiña at Calvary Hill in Quillacollo, Bolivia. The event is informed by the precolonial goddess of fertility Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the cult of the Virgin Mary, deliberately conflated in Spanish colonial efforts to convert the locals to Catholicism. During the annual fiesta of the Virgin of Urkupiña, pilgrims buy alasitas to seek Mary's blessings for their (typically materialistic) requests, dislodge stones to take home as tangible reminders to Mary and themselves in the new year, and get rid of last year's stones and miniatures. If last year's requests have remained unmet, pilgrims blame themselves, holding that alasitas will work only if one has sufficient faith and makes reasonable requests.

Keywords: Pilgrimage; Catholicism; Spiritual economy; Virgin of Urkupiña; Mary; Pachamama; Alasitas; Stones; Bolivia

Chapter.  7299 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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