Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Toconce – Turi

Beliefs and funeral rites

These groups usually buried their dead in small rock shelters on the steep ravine cliffs located near their settlements, although they sometimes also built cemeteries of cylindrical underground tombs lined with stones. There is evidence that the bodies were initially kept in other locations then moved after a time to their final resting place inside the shelters. The shelters themselves often were enclosed with stone walls, leaving a square opening for a window. The burial sites sometimes contained a single individual, but usually included several bodies in what were apparently family tombs. Grave goods left with the bodies included a range of artifacts such as basketry, ceramic plates and jugs, textiles and ornaments, along with implements for the consumption of hallucinogenic substances. Above their villages they often constructed shrines, called chullpa, small towers with a single window facing the surrounding mountains. These structures testify to the presence in this region of a belief in guardian spirits embodied in the mountains, an ideology that originated in the Altiplano but was common throughout the Andean region.