This brightly-painted plaster statue from Bolivia depicts an Andean pre-Christian deity known as Ekkeko, the god of abundance, money, and luck. Similar statues are also made and sold in Peru. As is customary, Ekkeko (pronounced ey-kay-koh) is dressed in modern clothes with a real knit cap made of wool; he has outstretched arms, an open mouth, and a painted moustache. According to ancient legends, if you put a miniature of something you want on Ekkeko by noon on January 24, he will help you to get your wish in the year to come. You never remove the miniatures, so over the years Ekkeko becomes laden with your hopes and dreams. As you may have noticed, Ekkeko's mouth is open; this is so that he may receive his offering, which is a lit cigarette. The cigarette is put into his mouth after the miniature objects are tied to him. As he smokes the offering, the length of the ash that forms without breaking off is a seen as a sign of how much good fortune Ekkeko will grant the asker during the coming year.

Royal Ontario Museum
Gift of Helen Downie
c. 1968
© 2007, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

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