An Archaeology of Taki Onqoy: Revitalization and Entanglement in Colonial Peru
Norman, Scotti Michelle
This dissertation presents the results from the first archaeological study of Taki Onqoy, a sixteenth-century religious revitalization movement practiced by Andean peoples in Peru in resistance to Spanish cultural traditions and Catholic religion. Taki Onqoy practitioners preached that Andean huacas (local deities) were resurrecting and rising up in order to fight and defeat the Spanish God, thereby returning Peru to a prehispanic utopia. This dissertation argues that Taki Onqoy was a movement characterized by ambiguities and contradictions—it was Catholic, and yet its premise was shaped by Catholic tenets. It sought to elide factional, ethnic, and status difference by replicating the categorical foundation of Spanish colonialism (Spaniard/Indian) and uniting Andeans of various ethnicities, statuses, and gender against all-things-Spanish. As Taki Onqoy was entangled with Spanish colonial ideology, so too was it marked by entangled materiality, produced in situ by the interactions of people, places, and things. My research builds upon the primary witness accounts of Spanish priests and secondary scholarship examining the motivations of the priests and the movement. This study considers the materiality of Taki Onqoy. Specifically, I foreground Taki Onqoy practices—ritual drinking and dancing, spirit possession, animal sacrifice, ritual cleaning of households, use of red body paints, avoidance of Spanish churches and foods, destruction of Catholic artifacts, burial interaction and removal—that constituted the movement. Site-level contextual analysis of Taki Onqoy performative practices and attention to daily praxis are central to the thesis. I directed excavations at a known Taki Onqoy center, Iglesiachayoq (Chicha-Soras Valley, Ayacucho, Peru). The results demonstrate that a portion of the population engaged in a variety of practices associated with Taki Onqoy: these practices ranged from low-risk, private activities (avoidance of Spanish goods and foodstuffs in household contexts), to public Taki Onqoy rituals (evidence of cleaned outdoor enclosures away from the Spanish church), to high risk mortuary practices (the removal of interred ancestors from the Catholic church). This research takes a bottom-up perspective through examination of daily praxis at a Taki Onqoy center, thus shifting understandings of the movement from the perspectives of Spanish clerics, to one that approximates the experience of Taki Onqoy practitioners. More broadly, this dissertation reinvigorates anthropological and archaeological study of revitalization movements through synthesis of documentary data and archaeological inquiry.