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Shamanic Journeys into the Otherworld of the Archaic Chichimec

  • Carolyn E. Boyd (a1)
Abstract

A spatial analysis of rock art located within the lower Pecos region of southwest Texas and northern Mexico reveals the presence of a recurring motif that depicts anthropomorphic figures passing through an opening in a serpentine arch. An extensive review of the ethnographic literature and archaeological record of cultures within Mesoamerica and the Gran Chichimeca indicates that this motif is widespread and generally associated with specific beliefs about the shamanic journey into the spirit world. Based on analogies drawn from the ethnographic literature, the lower Pecos region motif can be interpreted as a pictographic representation of the shamanic journey made by Archaic Chichimecans into the spirit world. The evidence also indicates that the cosmologies of the cultures within Mesoamerica and the Gran Chichimeca were well established in the Chihuahuan Desert at least 4,000 years ago.

Este artículo presenta un análisis espacial sobre el arte rupestre en la región de Baja Pecos en el suroeste de Texas y el norte de México. Dicho análisis revela la presencia de una serie de imágenes recurrentes que retratan figuras antropomórficas, las cuales atraviesen una apertura o hueco en un arco serpentino ("serpentine arch"). Un estudio intensivo sobre la literatura etnográfica y el registro arqueológico de las culturas mesoamericanas y de las culturas de la Gran Chichimeca presenta notables paralelismos entre las imágenes pictográficas y la manera en que estas culturas visualizan y conmemoran sus cosmologías. El método utilizado para el presente estudio es basado en el establecimiento de analogías entre las imágenes recurrentes en la región de Baja Pecos y los viajes espirituales de los hechiceros ("shamanic journeys") realizada por los antiguos chichimecas. Esto sugiere a su vez que las cosmologías de las culturas de Mesoamérica y la Gran Chichimeca se arraigaron en el desierto de Chihuahua por lo menos hace cuatro mil años atrás.

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Latin American Antiquity
  • ISSN: 1045-6635
  • EISSN: 2325-5080
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