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ThingsReligion and the Question of Materiality$
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Dick Houtman and Birgit Meyer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823239450

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.001.0001

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

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

Chapter:
(p.198) Miniatures and Stones in the Spiritual Economy of the Virgin of Urkupinña in Bolivia
Source:
Things
Author(s):

Sanne Derks

Willy Jansen

Notermans Catrien

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.003.0012

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

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