Who hasn’t ever seen a ceramic bull, well planted, with insane and viscous eyes, long tongue, endowed with Golden horns and spiral figures, similar to snails?

It’s the famous Torito de Pucará, a representation of the Spanish influence in the South Andean sector, normally destined to occupy the roofs of the Puno and Cuzco houses and serve as a fertility and good luck totem.

The history of this ornament takes us back to the time of the conquest, when the Spanish arrived on horseback to the Pucará town in the department of Puno. The villagers, one day, carried out their pay festivals to the land as usual and the invading despotism forcibly included the painted and saddled bull, harassed to death with spice on the nose; the poor animal stretched out its tongue to calm its irritation. This fact suggested a burlesque attitude on the part of the Pucareños, perpetuating the image in the fired clay.

Royal provenance and myth

It is an error to affirm that this ceramic figure comes strictly from Pucará; the correct thing would be to recognize the province of Pupuja, district of Azángaro, Puno as the point of creation. But, why is it called Torito de Pucará, if it didn’t come from there, precisely? The answer is simple: the artists of Chepa Pupuja decided that their work should be sold at the Pucará railway station; behold the confusion.

Another aspect, proposed by Edilburgo Castillo, maintains that the origin lies in the myth of the bull and the rain. In summary: «An indigenous peasant, bent by the drought in Pucará, decided to pay tribute to Pachacámac, taking a bull to the rock to ask for abundant rain. The bull resisted going up and, in one of his attacks, he cracked a huge rock with his horns. Amazingly, water gushed out and the entire population thanked it. From then on, the faithful to the myth place two bulls on the roofs of their houses.

Totemic symbolism

Initially, the “Toritos de Pucará” were white and walnut (similar to wood or light brown), however, for tourist and commercial purposes, they took on other carnival hues -with different connotations, as we will review-. For example, black symbolizes the ego and psychic defects, also protection against envy; the blue, water and abundance; green, economic prosperity; orange, fun and merriment; and red, fertility and love of home.

In turn, this ceramic is composed of elements with their own meaning:

  • The hole in the coccyx represents fertilization.

  • The handle symbolizes the flow of sexual potency.

  • The tongue is related to good speech habits.

  • The snail-shaped figures represent the upward and downward spiral of life.

Now you know more about the “Toritos de Pucará!” Thank you for supporting Peruvian Crafts.

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