Accepted paper:

The Concepts of Ayni and Yanantin Through the Lenses of the Andean Funeral Practices.


Anastasiya Travina (University of Texas at Austin)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyzes the perception of death as reflected in the reciprocal and dualistic concepts of yanantin and ayni.

Paper long abstract:

A dualistic worldview is a prevalent cognitive pattern in contemporary and ancient Andean communities and can be found in their ceremonies, tales, rituals, and narrative stories. Traces of dualism and binary opposition can also be found in the social structure and spatial organization of these communities; especially in the pre-colonial Inka Empire. The cosmological concept of complementary duality, suggested by the unity of two opposed entities known as yanantin, evinces the notions of reciprocity and dualism prevalent in contemporary Andean communities. The paper analyzes the perception of death as reflected in the reciprocal concepts of yanantin and ayni. During the process of coping with grief and loss, the communities perform mourning songs and libations and thus establish the interaction between the ancestral world of the dead and the present life of the communities. Using ethnographic data and historical analysis, this paper explores the binary and cyclical nature of death in the Andean indigenous communities as reflected in their mythology, cosmology, and, particularly, funeral, burial and mourning practices.

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Documenting the meanings of life and death in the Americas