Friday, January 23, 2009
Ekeko's fair of prosperity!
This image is from a storefront on Mission Street, San Francisco. This little fellow may look like an Andean merchant wearing his traditional hat and carrying sacks of grain to market. It is hard to tell from the picture but he also carries a bunch of bills. He is actually the god of abundance and prosperity named Ekeko (I've also seen it spelled "Equeco").
Ekeko has a wide smile, doesn't he? According to lore, you are supposed to place a lit cigarette inside his mouth as an offering on certain days. Smoking makes Ekeko happy and he'll grant you prosperity and wishes - but only if he smokes it all the way trough, without the cigarette going off. Ekekos are seen in Peru, Bolivia and some places in Argentina. There is actually a big fair (La Feria de las Alacitas) in La Paz, on January the 24th. At this fair you can buy Ekko figurines and the miniature items he carries - clothing, food, grain, colorful fabric and other goods. These miniatures serve as representations of the things one wishes Ekeko to bring, in order to have an abundant and lush life.
There is one caveat: You have to rely on the generosity of others in order to have an Ekeko figurine. You can't buy a figurine for yourself, it would be tremendously unlucky. Someone needs to give you the Ekeko as a gift in order for his magic to be effective. With this economy being what it is I hope someone gets one for me! I think Ekekos are charming works of folk art. They are also a South American reminder that even the prosperous have to rely on other people.