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História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos

Print version ISSN 0104-5970On-line version ISSN 1678-4758


LESSA, Andrea. Rites of sacrifice: the survival of an ancient dimension of the human body. Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos [online]. 2007, vol.14, n.3, pp.907-919. ISSN 0104-5970.

The power of tradition is capable of preserving customs that go counter to the social and cultural trends in today's urban centers. Though customs such as rites of sacrifice are often condemned by society and have undergone an adaptive syncretism, they still preserve ancient traditional elements that underline their importance as mediators between the natural and supernatural worlds. A good example of this is the Tinku ritual fight, identified in samples of Pre-Columbian skeletons from the Atacama desert in Chile, which continues to this day amongst Andean groups, having survived for at least 1,200 years. The main objective in this fight is that the participants bleed to death as offerings to the divinity, Pachamama, to assure the fertility of the land and the animals. When rites of sacrifice are understood as symbols of social identity, they give us a better understanding of the ethos of past and present societies, from a very particular perspective.

Keywords : rites of sacrifice; Tinku fights; Andes; San Pedro de Atacama.

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