Representing Difference in the Pre-Columbian Andes: An Iconographic Examination of Physical "Disability"

Author(s): Ryan Hechler; William Pratt

Year: 2015


This paper will review iconographic representations of physical disabilities and differences from several Andean societies from different time periods, such as the Inka, Chimú, Wari, Tiwanaku, and Moche. People with physical disabilities were actively included in many societies throughout the Pre-Columbian Andes. Many cultures developed their own social perceptions that benefited people with physical disabilities and differences and they often thought the disabled were more intimately connected to spiritual worlds. People with differences were rarely depicted in a manner of despair, or being helped by others; quite the opposite, people with disabilities were virtually always operating independently even when depicted with a larger group. Artistic depictions of people with disabilities and physical differences often presented such individuals as being active – frequently participating in ritual, playing music, and even appearing content. People with physical differences and disabilities are some of the most overlooked individuals in current Andean research.

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Representing Difference in the Pre-Columbian Andes: An Iconographic Examination of Physical "Disability". Ryan Hechler, William Pratt. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398393)

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Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;