Waska Tatay: Harmony In Contradiction

Bolivia Medicine ManThe Altiplano, or high plain, of South America holds the world’s highest navigable lake, Titicaca, and the largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni.

BoliviaHigher than many peaks in the Rockies, it is the second largest mountain plateau in the world, after that of Tibet—a landscape of ice and fire, wind and salt that stretches from northern Argentina to the harsh flatlands of Peru.

75 percent of Bolivians are indigenous. The Highland Aymara people — nearly third of the population — live in the Altiplano. Keepers of extraordinary mythologies, Aymara believed to be descendants of the ancient Tiahuanacun civilization centered near Lake Titicaca in the early centuries A.D.

An Aymara priest participates in a ritual at sunrise to celebrate the Aymara New Year on June 21, 2013 at the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia. A crowd gathered to receive the first rays of Tata Inti (god Sun) during the celebration of the winter solstice that marks the beginning of the 5521st year in the Aymara calendar. AFP/PHOTO/Aizar RALDESAIZAR RALDES/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT:
An Aymara priest participates in a ritual at sunrise to celebrate the Aymara New Year on June 21, 2013 at the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia. A crowd gathered to receive the first rays of Tata Inti (god Sun) during the celebration of the winter solstice that marks the beginning of the 5521st year in the Aymara calendar. AFP/PHOTO/Aizar RALDESAIZAR RALDES/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT:

Photographers Thomas Rousset and Raphaël Verona traveled to the Altiplano and documented their encounters with the Aymaran witch doctors, spiritual healers and medicine men in a photo-book Waska Tatay — a fascinating mixture of reportage and staged portraiture.

 

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Bolivia Medicine Man3Every image is a counterpoint between the rites and rituals of Aymaran witchcraft and pagan practices, dating back millennia and their contemporaneous setting.

A witch doctor up a tree, in ceremonial dress but clutching her cell phone to her face:Bolivia Medicine Man9

A pair of women in costumes and masks sitting in chairs in parquet tiled room:  Bolivia Medicine Man2

A man dressed head-to-toe as a fish in a perfectly modern setting:Bolivia Medicine Man7

This juxtaposition of old and new, good and evil, spiritual and physical creates an arresting image of the world where contradiction is harmony.

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