Materializing virtues: Crafted miniatures as moral examples in the Argentinean Andes

Olivia Angé*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In the Argentinean Andes, people craft miniatures in order to please Saint Anne. Most literature on Andean miniatures focuses on their exchange and use. This paper addresses their production process in an attempt to show that the value of miniatures is entangled in practices. Ethnographic description shows that miniatures should please the saint because they are said to be much more complicated to craft than their normally scaled homologues, and thus their production requires more diligence and faith. In this light, it is argued that miniatures are more than a physical reproduction of a larger-scaled model; they are examples in the sense that they completely incarnate key moral values. Yet, their coexistence with industrially manufactured items accounts for the exercise of individual choice in the realization of ritual scaling practices. In the context of an ongoing ethical turn in anthropology, this paper explores the articulation of collective morality and freedom as it relates to ritual scaling practices. In so doing it also highlights the entangled transmission process of technical skills, religiosity, and morality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-503
JournalJournal of Anthropological Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Andes
  • Feast of Saint Anne
  • Labor
  • Miniatures
  • Ritual
  • Social transmission
  • Values

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