Andean Textile Talk: Pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountains of Apu Ausangate, Peru and Mount Kailash, Tibet
Pilgrimage is a way to live harmoniously with nature, pay tribute to the mountain spirits, and sustain strong relationships with the natural elements—keys to a rich and beneficial life. The spirit of pilgrimage to sacred mountains links indigenous mountain peoples of two distant areas of the world, Peru and Tibet.
Quechua speaking Peruvians hike to the Sinkara Valley, at 15,000 feet, during the annual Qoyllur Rit’i pilgrimage to pay homage to Apu Ausangate, the mountain spirit of the Cuzco region. At an altitude of 20,800 feet, Mt. Ausangate dominates the Vilcanota range southeast of Cuzco. Andrea will discuss the textiles and their important relationships to Apu Ausangate.
In a similar spirit of homage and resistance to an occupying political force, Tibetans circumambulate the 32-mile pilgrimage route of their most sacred mountain, 22,038-foot Mount Kailash, in western Tibet as the spiritual journey of a lifetime. Bon, the original spiritual tradition of Tibet, traces its roots to 17,000 years ago in Tajik. It still exists and is gaining momentum through teachings in the Western world. In Bon, an important aspect is the opening of pilgrimage routes by its highest lamas (spiritual teachers).
Andrea Heckman has been a cultural and trekking guide for the international adventure travel company Wilderness Travel for forty years. She has made the sacred pilgrimage of Qoyllur Rit’i near Mt. Ausangate, Peru many times while living there and conducting research for her PhD in Latin American studies. In 1996, she was a Fulbright Fellow in the Ausangate region of Peru, studying textiles and rituals. She has been to Nepal several times, and in 2000, she hiked the sacred pilgrimage route around Mount Kailash, Tibet. She is an avid photographer and the author of Woven Stories: Andean Textiles and Rituals (2003: UNM Press). She also directed and produced the award winning documentary films.Her new book, Seeing Through the Eyes of Others, will be available in November 2021.