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3.06.2005

 

I am rich Potosí, the mountain that eats men.




The magnificent mountain of Potosí in Bolivia yielded more silver than any other mountain or region of the world. In the 16th and 17th centuries this wealth flowed through Spain into Europe and played an important role in the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and trade with Asia. Yet the grueling work of extracting the silver was left to the indigenous population of the Andes, who were enslaved by the Spanish and died by the thousands on the mountain.

Today, Potosí maintains this unique culture, based on its epic history. Approximately 18,000 miners still work in or around the mountain, searching for trace amounts of silver and tin. Inside the mountain, miners worship their devil, who is represented as a sexually potent Spaniard, lord of the mineral realm.

Photographer Stephen Ferry has made many trips to Potosí to document this ongoing drama. His book, I Am Rich Potosi. The Mountain That Eats Men, describes this world in color images. You can also see his online Potosí photo journal.

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