By Dan Collyns
The newly erected statue of a grinning man with an enormous phallus has prompted delight and rage in an archaeological hotspot in northern Peru where it has been on show since the beginning of the year.
Although perhaps not anatomically correct, the crimson fibreglass structure is a faithful representation of a ceramic vessel from Peru’s pre-Columbian Mochica culture, whose people lived in the region between 150 and 700 AD.
A 15-minute drive from the centre of the regional capital, Trujillo, the statue has already proved hugely popular with passers-by and tourists who pose beneath the 1.5-meter member for selfies.
But despite its historical fidelity, the 9ft-tall fertility symbol has already been attacked by vandals who smashed a hole in the statue and reportedly fired shots in the air as they fled.
Arturo Fernández Bazán, the mayor of Moche, the district named after the ancient culture, told local media: “At two in the morning three hooded criminals held a knife to the security guard’s neck to keep him from reacting or calling his colleagues on the radio, and two of them damaged the phallus.”
He said it is believed that the attack was carried out by a group of evangelical Christians who have called the statue “obscene and an insult to the eyes of God.”
The roadside monument to the ancient pre-Inca culture renowned for its sexually explicit ceramics has also drawn tourists, as the statue stands on the route between the imposing adobe temples of the sun and the moon, or the Huacas del Sol y la Luna.
Fernández Bazán said he plans to erect up to 30 more statues representing the Mochica culture – about a third of them representing erotic acts or childbirth – along the archaeological circuit.
“In our Mochica culture, these types of ceramics vessels were not considered erotic but represented the Godhead,” Fernández Bazán, who worked as a gynaecologist before entering local politics, told local media.
“The [Ancient] Greeks had another type of representation. We have been more aggressive and more direct with our feelings,” he added.
The statue has provoked diverse reactions posted on the Moche municipality Facebook page, some saying that they found the statue offensive or that it should not be viewed by children.
Gisela Ortiz, Peru’s culture minister, said: “The idea that children shouldn’t see it or it’s too offensive belongs to the time of obscurantism.”
She told the Guardian. “As Peruvians, we should all feel proud of our diverse heritage, including the sexual or erotic part, which is inherent to the human being.”
She added that while “nothing justifies the violence against the security guard”, greater efforts to explain the cultural significance of the statue to the local population could help avert further controversy.
Credit: The Guardian