A Sacred Space

31 Dec, 1969 | Lola Newell

The Arts, Culture and Indigeneity

Photos: Lola Newell 

Thanking Pachamama amongst the sculptures of Francine Secretan 

Throughout the month of August, Pachamama, the Andean earth-mother goddess, will receive thousands of offerings as gratitude for keeping fields fertile and life thriving. The traditional way to make an offering is through a mesa, and after purchasing one from the calle de Las Brujas in La Paz, I went to the sculptor Francine Secretan’s spectacular Espacio Ritual in Achocalla, a small town about an hour south of La Paz, to make my own offering. For Secretan, this ritual space is one of her most important creations, because it gives her sculptures a function beyond aesthetics. She described how ‘throughout history, sculptures had always been a part of people's daily lives’ and through her Espacio Ritual in Achocalla and her earlier ritual space in La Cumbre, she has given her art a higher purpose.

Inaugurated in 2015, this area consists of four large sculptures creating a circular space for performing traditional rituals. Secretan described how her objective was ‘to create a sacred space, a transcendental site, a viewpoint on the edge of the abyss, whose unlimited spectacles are accentuated by the sculptures found there.’ Raised up above the town of Achocalla, with the white peaks of Huayna Potosi and Illimani piercing the clear blue sky in the background, this ritual space lives up to Secretan’s objective.


Secretan’s Espacio Ritual is one of her most important creations, because it gives her sculptures a function beyond aesthetics. 


The four large sculptures that make up the space are La Puerta (The Door), La Chakana (Andean Cross), El Guardián (The Guardian) and El Recipiente de Energía (The Recipient of Energy). In the centre of the space there is a stone table on which rituals are performed. Secretan explained how each sculpture has a specific purpose and meaning as part of the space. La Puerta, which is a doorway made of stone, ‘opens communication, delimits the space and gives access to another dimension.’ La Chakana, a red cross, is the ‘union of the past and present’ and signifies ‘bridge, transparency and passage.’ El Guardián helps ‘to protect the rituals and the sacred.’ And finally, El Recipiente de Energía, a circle without start or finish, ‘is a symbol of the eternal and the absolute.’ These four combine to create a sacred space perfect for giving thanks to Pachamama.

Pachamama comes from Incan mythology, something that had always interested Secretan. Originally from Switzerland, she has been fascinated by South American and pre-Columbian culture from a very young age. She moved to Bolivia 50 years ago after finishing school and has lived in La Paz and worked as an artist ever since. She described how initially she found the prominent use of rituals and appreciation Bolivians have for nature as a complete culture shock. In Switzerland, rituals no longer exist, she says, and she found it profoundly touching when discovering them here.


‘We think that human beings are the owners and masters of the earth, whereas it is the complete opposite, we are just inhabitants and we have completely blasphemed nature.’

—Francine Secretan


The appreciation of Pachamama is even more relevant today, with increasing global warming and widespread environmental destruction. ‘We think that human beings are the owners and masters of the earth,’ Secretan says, ‘whereas it is the complete opposite, we are just inhabitants and we have completely blasphemed nature.’ The month of Pachamama is an annual ritual that reminds people of the importance of nature and how we must do all we can to look after it.

Image title

In order to make an offering to Pachamama a mesa is traditionally required, I bought mine from a chiflera on the calle de Las Brujas. These chifleras will prepare the mesa according to a person’s wants and budget. Mine was quite small, costing just 30 bolivianos (plus 10 for alcohol). Some mesas cost as little as 20 bolivianos, but others can cost up to a thousand, depending on what is required. A mesa usually consists of multiple sweets, some with specific images relevant to what the person wants; mine had one for good exam results and a frog which is meant to bring good financial fortune. It’s also very common to include herbs, honey, fruits and coca leaves. A llama foetus, known as a sullu, will often be the main offering of the mesa, and these can vary greatly in size and are priced accordingly. When I bought my mesa, the chiflera topped it with some tinsel and wrapped it in packaging so that it would be ready to be offered to Pachamama.

The offering itself was quite simple. Once I arrived at Secretan’s Espacio Ritual, I unpacked and placed the mesa on a stone table in the centre of the space. After dousing it with alcohol, I set it alight and watched it burn while reflecting on what I had to be grateful for. I thought of my family, friends and the amazing opportunities I’ve had to travel over the past year, but I also thought of Pachamama, the embodiment of the earth mother herself, and for the life she continues to give, even as humanity is determined to destroy it. Being in the space, surrounded by Secretan’s sculptures and the snow-capped mountains was, to repeat the words of Secretan, profoundly touching. Although a little off the beaten track, this is a real must-see in La Paz that definitely deserves to be experienced by more people. 

Image title

For more information on Francine Secretan, her art and her Espacio Ritual, visit fsecretan.com

Comments

james anderson
14 Nov, 2019 | 15:32
The best thing about the bath bomb box is it's easy to customize that gives free hand to the supplier to incorporate their branding needs and promote their bath bombs brands using these customized <a href="https://www.icustomboxes.com/bath-bomb-boxes/">bath bomb boxes</a> for bath bombs with logo. Such a bath bomb box uses the latest technology of printing and implements different themes to grab a large number of customers for using your bath bomb brands. <a href="https://www.icustomboxes.com/lipstick-boxes/">Lipstick boxes</a> <a href="https://www.icustomboxes.com/blank-cigarette-boxes/">Cardboard Cigarette boxes</a> <a href="https://www.icustomboxes.com/lip-balm-boxes/">Custom Lip balm boxes</a> <a href="https://www.icustomboxes.com/cigarette-boxes/">Cigarette boxes</a> <a href="https://www.icustomboxes.com/cardboard-boxes-with-handle/">Cardboard box with handle</a>
Buy Custom Boxes Wholesale
07 Nov, 2019 | 03:47
I wish like to thank you for this post.
tien liet tuyen la gi
24 Oct, 2019 | 00:30
Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.
vidmate
03 Oct, 2019 | 10:36
vidmate is best video downloading app for Android. you can use vidmate to save instagram and facebook videos easily.
vidamte
03 Oct, 2019 | 10:32
<a href="https://vidmate.fyi/">vidmate</a> is best video downloading app for Android. you can use vidmate to save instagram and facebook videos easily.
Jade scape singapore
30 Sep, 2019 | 05:03
You have done a great job on this article. It’s very readable and highly intelligent. You have even managed to make it understandable and easy to read. You have some real writing talent. Thank you
SatTVMaster
25 Sep, 2019 | 16:14
Продажа настройка и ремонт спутниковых Антенн всех видов Краснодар Продажа ремонт и настройка всех видов спутниковых антенн НТВ+, Триколор ТВ, Хот-Бирд ТВ. Приеду в любое удобное для вас время подключаем антенны с любым тематическим содержанием, на всех языках мира Подключение от 1 го до 20 телевизоров Обмен старых приемников на новые Установка цифрового телевидения Доставка на дом Продажа ремонт и настройка спутниковых Антенн всех видов в Краснодаре
MasterTVSamara
25 Sep, 2019 | 16:00
Ремонт телевизоров Работаем без выходных Самара Мастер с большим опытом работы более 25 лет Ремонт жидкокристаллических (жк), плазменных, кинескопных телевизоров Осуществляем ремонт телевизоров в Самаре различных видов Работаем без выходных Выезд мастера в любой район города Звоните и договаривайтесь Ремонт телевизоров без выходных в Самаре
facebook post designer
24 Sep, 2019 | 04:23
Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work.
I have Read Your Article, its really amazing and informative Best Of Luck
Villa Las Rocas
18 Sep, 2019 | 16:48
You have an informative blog, worth sharing! Thanks
acrylic light panels
17 Sep, 2019 | 06:34
I enjoy this website, will certainly arrive back. Make sure you carry on writing high quality posts.
192.168.1.254 admin login VIP
17 Sep, 2019 | 00:37
192.168.1.254 admin login VIP is one of the many IP addresses reserved for private networks, assigned by the Internet Assigned Number Authority
Lahore Inter Part 1 Result 2019
14 Sep, 2019 | 05:25
It's late finding this act. At least, it's a thing to be familiar with that there are such events exist. I agree with your Blog and I will be back to inspect it more in the future so please keep up your act.
Some genuinely nice and utilitarian info on this web site , likewise I think the layout has fantastic features.
numero de voyance
10 Sep, 2019 | 08:53
The following is found 100 % most suitable. Every one of small-scale aspects are written and wide range of past recognizing. I want it plenty.
learn Quran online
09 Sep, 2019 | 14:05
Our online courses are remarkable. So start your Quran Education with us. But make sure you start with commitment and determination.
carpet cleaning
09 Sep, 2019 | 00:38
That's why a good idea is that you must correlated go through earlier than establishing. You can easily print significantly better put in with this.
토토사이트
05 Sep, 2019 | 14:19
This specific would seem to be utterly most beneficial. Each one of these modest tips can be designed with a number of backdrop tips. I favor which will much.
vex 3
05 Sep, 2019 | 06:31
Thanks for sharing such a great information with us. Your writing is unique and all information is reliable for new readers. Please keep it in the future, thanks for sharing such helpful posts. Please continue to uphold.
voyance gratuite immediate
04 Sep, 2019 | 07:21
You made such an interesting piece to read, giving every subject enlightenment for us to gain knowledge. Thanks for sharing the such information with us to read this...
bubbles iq
03 Sep, 2019 | 23:09
I've spent ages looking for this on the web. Thank God someone did post it. Thanks.
subway surfers
03 Sep, 2019 | 22:52
Great, I wish I could set foot on this sacred land!
driving directions
03 Sep, 2019 | 05:55
Your article is very good, I have read many articles but I am really impressed with your posts. Thank you, I will review this article. To know about me, try talking to me
vodafone customer care
01 Sep, 2019 | 15:15
We have sell some products of different custom boxes.it is very useful and very low price please visits this site thanks and please share this post with your friends.
Adult Dating
30 Aug, 2019 | 22:45
Hey ) Find the best free fuck buddies for hookups. Here are my intimate photos: ❤ http://s4f.net/pm/boli ❤
facebook analytics tool
30 Aug, 2019 | 02:29
Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post.

Make a comment