November 10, 2012 Anne Tiballi, PhD: "Virgins of the Sun: Sex and
Purity in Late Prehispanic and Colonial Peru"
When the Spanish arrived in the Andes
in 1532, they encountered a cultural entirely unlike any they had
seen before. The chronicles produced after the Conquest represent
the efforts of Spanish, mestizo, and Andean writers to describe and
understand Inka food, religion, social organization, and history.
The Catholic heritage of the Spanish heavily influenced their
interpretation of Andean customs, especially their depiction of the
aqllakuna, the Virgins of the Sun. This highly-esteemed class of
women produced fine cloth and performed religious rituals for the
Inka state. The chronicles portray the aqlla in the guise of
Catholic nuns, placing a heavy emphasis on their virginity, chastity
and cloistered lives. Considering that the sexual depravity of
Andean people was a common theme among certain chroniclers, the
presence of an Inka institution based on perpetual chastity seems
curious. This paper examined the influence of the colonial Catholic
project in the Andes, comparing it to ethnohistoric and
archaeological evidence of Andean sexual practice, to reveal an
alternative interpretation of the aqllakuna and the Inka notion of
Dr. Anne Tiballi recently received her
Ph.D. in Anthropology from Binghamton University, under the
direction of Dr. William Isbell. She performed her dissertation
research on the archaeological materials from the Cemetery of the
Sacrificed Women, Pachacamac, Peru, at the University of
Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. She has worked
with textile collections from several coastal Andean sites,
including Huayuri, Cerrillos, and Casa Vieja in the Ica Valley. Dr.
Tiballi currently serves as Director of Archaeological Textile
Studies for the California Institute for Peruvian Studies, and is a
consulting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.
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