John W. Janusek

Suñawa Awakens

John W. Janusek

Suñawa Awakens
L 24” x W 18” D 3”

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Vanderbilt University

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In South America, stone is alive. Human-like stone sculptures at the
Precolumbian city of Tiwanaku (AD 500-1000), in the high Andes of Bolivia, were
considered vital great ancestors. People came from across the Andes to
venerate these great lithic beings, each situated in its own temple home and
quarried from a powerful mountain peak near the great center. Even today,
these sculptures live. For local Aymara-speaking communities, they awaken,
walk, and interact at night. Community members, and now urban dwellers and
tourists, come to Tiwanaku’s ruins to visit the sculptures and make offerings to
them for the benefit of one’s health, a family’s herds, or success in one’s career.
Monoliths such as Suñawa remain essential for human well-being in the Andean