Pigments and Power in the Andes

from the Material to the Symbolic in Andean Cultural Practices 1500 - 1800

Gabriela Siracusano

This book is the result of a study of cultural practices related to the uses of colouring materials in the South American Andean region during the colonial period (sixteenth–eighteenth centuries) and their 'powerful' presence in the images of the conquest. It offers the reader a new insight into the techniques and use of colour in Andean colonial painting.

A material history of color in Andean workshops (the 'making'), leads the reader to the exchange of ideas between different parties such as painters, pharamacists, physicians, alchemists, etc. (the 'knowledge'), and then to the symbolic and powerful dimension of these coloured powders as found in the sacred and political messages projected by the images (the 'power').

Starting with an analysis of the images and the concept of representation during the process of evangelisation/domination, the author describes the discursive and iconographic strategies used by different parties to achieve several goals through the use of colour. The book's main hypothesis is that colors were silent protagonists of the Andean ritual system, a fact that was identified only by certain 'idol exterminators' who tried to 'rebrand' them by giving them a Christian meaning.

This is the English language edition of El Poder de los Colores by Gabriela Siracusano, published by Fondo de Cultura Economica, Buenos Aires 2005.

ISBN 9781904982562
Binding Paperback
Dimensions 174 x 245mm
Pages 200
Illustrations 88 colour, 37 halftone
Published May 2011
Price £39.50