Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Native peoples > Colla

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Beliefs and Funerary Practices

Many of the festivities celebrated in Colla communities have been “reinvented” by recovering ancient Andean knowledge and practices and/or adopting celebrations promoted by State institutions, such as the Day of Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous New Year. Traditional Colla spiritual practices include the apacheta ceremony—the ritual construction of a stone cairn by pedestrian travelers and cattle drivers—in Río Jorquera, and anniversary celebrations held in individual communities, which commonly include horsemanship competitions and traditional Criollo dances. Until the 1970s, the Collas of Potrerillos celebrated the feast days of their patron saints as well as rites dedicated to the Pachamama (Sacred Mother Earth). They also held the celebration of los convidados and rituals involving livestock such as the vilancha and enfloramiento, but these are no longer celebrated, as the herds have shrunk and herding is on a small scale than before, and especially, because many Colla families have converted to Protestant religions and renounced their more traditional indigenous and hybrid Catholic-indigenous rituals and ceremonies.

As most Collas now live in cities, they are buried in typical, modern-day cemeteries. In former days, however, herders were sometimes buried at the place they passed away, usually in some remote corner of the foothills region. Traditional Colla funerary rites include the sacrificing of animals owned by the herder, including livestock and/or dogs, which were buried along with the deceased.