Our Lady of Cocharcas
c. 1675
39.25" x 32"
Painting, Oil on canvas
Region: Cuzco, Peru
For over four hundred years, pilgrims in the highland Andean province of Apurimac, Peru have prepared offerings, donned colorful woven garments, and set out over treacherous passes to express their allegiance to an advocation of the Virgin Mary known as Our Lady of Cocharcas. Devotion to Our Lady of Cocharcas began during the Spanish colonial occupation of the region. This unique Peruvian highland cult was grounded in the manipulation of physical bodies during pilgrimage and in other devotional practices centered around the cult statue. Material objects, including a group of documentary paintings of Our Lady of Cocharcas, recall the processes by which ancient Andean pilgrimage traditions became deeply integrated into late-colonial socio-religious consciousness. In the ancient and Inca-occupied Andes, imperial and local sacred sites united diverse geographic areas and dispersed peoples. The Andean-European encounter in Cocharcas produced an environment charged with the tensions of colonial rule. Within this environment, individuals swayed by the ambiguous power of mixed Catholic and Andean ritual practices crafted a communal visual history of local Marian devotion.