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About This Book
The Sibundoy valley of southwestern Colombia is the home of a unique Indian culture -- one that blends Incan elements with those of the aboriginal natives. Moreover, Sibundoy bridges two domains, the Andean highlands and the Amazonian basin, and inter-mixed with all of these elements are European influences, particularly folk and orthodox Catholicism. From this cultural enclave, John McDowell presents here a body of oral material collected from the Santiago Ingano community.
This corpus of material is made up of some 200 "sayings of the ancestors, " proverb-like statements, many concerned with dreams and the forecasting of future events. From an analysis of these sayings emerges a cosmological view of the Sibundoy Indians, a glimpse of their spiritual world. It is a world where spirits constantly impinge on the activities of everyday life. It is a world where the sayings can both warn of spiritual sickness and offer the way to spiritual health. For the Sibundoy the sayings go back to the first people, the "ancestors, " who established for all time the models for a proper life. The study of the sayings is rounded out with references to the parallel fields of mythology and folk medicine as these contribute to a clearer understanding of their roles and functions in Sibundoy life.
Sayings of the Ancestors provides a fascinating body of original folkloric and ethnographic material from a unique cultural locus. It is also an engrossing demonstration that what seems a miscellaneous group of small beliefs can be seen as the components of a larger world-order. The book and its interpretive findings will be a valuable resource for folklorists, anthropologists, and many Latin Americanists.