"In the remoteness of their mountain retreat, the herders of Chillihuani, Peru, recognize that respect for others is the central and most significant element of all thought and action," observes Inge Bolin. "Without respect, no society, no civilization, can flourish for long. Without respect, humanity is doomed and so is the earth, sustainer of all life."
In this beautifully written ethnography, Bolin describes the rituals of respect that maintain harmonious relations among people, the natural world, and the realm of the gods in an isolated Andean community of llama and alpaca herders that reaches up to 16,500 feet. Bolin was the first foreigner to visit Chillihuani, and she was permitted to participate in private family rituals, as well as public ceremonies. In turn, she allows the villagers to explain the meaning of their rituals in their own words.
From these first-hand experiences, Bolin offers an intimate portrait of an annual ritual cycle that dates back to Inca and pre-Inca times, including the ancient Pukllay; weddings; the Fiesta de Santiago, with its horse races on the top of the world; and Peru's Independence Day, when the Rituals of Respect for elders and young people alike are carried out within male and female hierarchies reminiscent of Inca times.