The newly erected statue of a smiling man with a huge phallus has sparked joy and rage in an archaeological hotspot in northern Peru where it has been on display since the start of the year.
While perhaps not anatomically correct, the purple fiberglass structure is an accurate representation of a ceramic vessel from the pre-Columbian Mochica culture of Peru, whose people lived in the region between AD 150-700.
A 15-minute drive from the center of the regional capital, Trujillo, the statue has already proven extremely popular with passers-by and tourists who pose under the 1.5-meter limb for selfies.
But despite its historical fidelity, the 9-foot-tall fertility symbol has already been attacked by vandals who smashed a hole in the statue and reportedly fired shots into the air as they fled.
Arturo Fernández Bazán, mayor of Moche, the district named after ancient culture, told local media :, and two of them damaged the phallus.
The roadside monument to the ancient pre-Inca culture famous for its sexually explicit ceramics has also attracted tourists, as the statue stands on the road between the towering adobe temples of the sun and the moon, or the Huacas del Sol y la Luna.
Fernández Bazán said he plans to erect as many as 30 other statues representing Mochica culture – around a third of them depicting erotic acts or childbirth – along the archaeological circuit.
“In our Mochica culture, these types of ceramic vessels were not considered erotic but represented divinity,” Fernández Bazán, who worked as a gynecologist before entering local politics, told local media.
“The [Ancient] The Greeks had a different type of representation. We were more aggressive and more direct with our feelings, ”he added.
The statue sparked various reactions posted on the Moche Municipality’s Facebook page, with some saying they found the statue offensive or that it should not be seen by children.
Gisela Ortiz, Peruvian Minister of Culture, said: “The idea that children should not see it or that it is too offensive belongs to the era 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 in being human. “
She added that while “there is no justification for violence against the security guard,” increased efforts to explain the statue’s cultural significance to local people could help avoid further controversy.