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Author R. Ann Siracusa welcomes you to her blog
IT'S THE JOURNEY THAT COUNTSPack your bags, pour a goblet of 1998 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, settle in a comfortable first class seat with one of my novels, and get ready to travel to exotic foreign lands for romance and intrigue—and a good laugh. Enjoy the adventure. It’s not the destination that matters; it’s the journey that counts.
Traveling in Peru is like experiencing other places in the world where thousands of years of civilizations steamroll over one another. Century after century, culture after culture, all leave their mark, but not as layers. Instead, the various cultures, beliefs, and traditions are stirred into the mix and entwined until only archeologists can determine their origins.
Peru is certainly no exception, but exists as a melting pot of modern / colonial Spanish and Inca / pre-Inca cultures.
Where is Pucara, Peru?
The town of Pucara (or Pukara)—population 5,000 to 10,000, but no absolute figure—is a quiet pueblo located in the southern highlands in the northern basin of Lake Titicaca. It's about 66 miles north of the city of Puno (Lake Titicaca) between Cuzco and Puno. The altiplano (high plane in the Andes Mountains), is very dry, bleak, and not particularly hospitable terrain.
The people there (to me) lacked the joy of living I observed in other parts of Peru, and the inhabitants work hard and put to use every possible resource.
Within the town, facing the Plaza de Armas, is the Church of Santa Isabel De Pukara built by Jesuit missionaries in 1767. Its ornate interior a large mural of the Jatun Ñak'aq, El Gran Degollador (or Decapitator).
There is also the Museo Lítico de Pukara just off the plaza, on the road to the pre-Columbian archeological site by the same name (300 B.C. thru 300 A.D.) is known for its unusual horseshoe-shaped temple of stone masonry. Actually, the museum has some very wonderful ceramic pieces.
Pucara is famous for its ceramic production, a tradition dating back at least 2,500 years. And it is the home of the Toritos De Pucara.
What are the Toritos De Pucara?
It is tradition and very common in the highlands of the Andes to place to ceramic bulls on the red clay tile roofs of the houses. The two bulls are placed side by side at the peak of the roof, sometimes with a ladder and a cross.
According to Escaped to Peru – Latin American Blog “Two bulls side by sale (male and female) are said to signify various things.” Help me out, here. I was under the impression (possibly an incorrect one) that all bulls were of the male persuasion. Am I missing something?
Regardless, the bulls keep the house safe with a blessing to the “Apus” (the Inca mountain gods) and ensure health, wealth, and unity for the occupants of the house.
The bulls are combined with a ladder and a cross to allow easy passage to heaven when the final call comes.
You can buy these at the market outside the church. Buy them there, because I’ve haven't found them in the states, and on-line they run from $60 to $100 each.