The Antlers of a Trilemma: Rediscovering Andean Sacred Sites

  • Fausto O. SarmientoEmail author
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 2)


The zoomorphic metaphor of deer anatomy explains Andean identity as a coupled environmental system. This is a result of mystic realism or magic pragmatism, which often obscures participation of the local cultures of the Andes cordillera, particularly in (re)defining their Andean self with strong biocultural anchors. Just like the antlers, the trilemma of Andean identity exemplifies the need for a deeper understanding of the stewardship of ecological processes that has been molded to fit geographical and cultural demands of ancestral societies. Quechua traditional ecological knowledge serves as guiding principles to define and implement sacred sites in the region that cherishes its heritage landscapes. (Kichwa is the phonetic writing of ‘Quechua’ (in Peru) or ‘Quichua’ (in Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina), the language of the Andean people (runa simi). I avoid the hegemony of Castilianized words, as I support the recovery of local identity and the invigoration of vernacular culture, including the use of the non-written language of the Inka. In this text, I use italics to highlight the phonetic Kichwa alphabet, while Spanish terms appear inside single quotation marks for emphasis. Scientific names are also italicized.) The relationship of the triangular representation of cultural identity, associated with the binary concept of opposite values or Yanantin, and the driver that accentuates spiritual dimension or Masintin, the development of ritualized practices observing natural phenomena creates the wholeness among Andeanity, Andeaness, and Andeanitude. By explaining the syncretism observed in contemporary societies of the Andes Mountains, the creation, (re)creation and (pro)creation of harmonious implications between people and the environment are realized. Finally, to assess actual and potential contributions of the discourse in the sacred narrative of biodiversity conservation for Earth Stewardship, several sacred sites exemplify the application of the new trend for biocultural heritage as the driver for cultural landscape management and sustainability scenarios in the Andes.


Andes Heritage landscapes Identity Sarmiento’s trilemma Sacred site conservation Traditional ecological knowledge 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neotropical Montology CollaboratoryUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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