Sh*t just got real…istic in Arequipa, Peru
Nothing like wandering the streets of a new-to-me city and seeing this:
It’s Peruvian folklore, rendered large and hyper-realistic.
This statue and 11 others are part of “Caylloma y su Historia Milenaria” an art exhibition organized by the government of the Caylloma province to celebrate the region’s cultural diversity and promote tourism in the Colca area. The statues, lined up in Arequipa’s main square, are swarmed by Peruvians, not so much by gringos.
The snake-wielding, horned beast is El Lanlaco, a mythical creature depicted in Peruvian dance by a man wearing animal skins, horns, and bells.
The strangest thing about this art exhibit is that many of the real Peruvians are dressed up in the same outfits as the sculptures. History is alive and well in Peru.
Later I learn that Raúl Yanque, the sculptor of the Negrillo dancer, chose the face of Ciro Castillo Rojo, a young man who’d recently died on a Colca Canyon hike. The artist chose this tribute to Ciro because of his resemblance to the Negrillo, who is traditionally described as non-native to the region with dark skin, a prominent nose, and thick lips.
Some of the statues show dancers in disguise, with outfits and accessories packed with symbolism and significance that I don’t grasp (but wish I did).
Looking at these detailed, greater-than-life-size statues in the quickly dimming cloudy twilight is like watching the ultimate all-in-one Peruvian parade frozen in time.
Which of these statues is your favorite? Which will give you nightmares?