The Ekeko

This piece folklore was gathered at the San Fransisco trauma recovery center. I met with a group of social workers and over the course of one hour we all got came together in a meeting room and in one big group we decided to go around the table and each discuss folklore from their lives. At the beginning of the discussion I gave a brief description about what folklore could be. After that everyone shared pieces of folklore from their lives.

“This is actually a piece of Peruvian folklore. It’s more of a good luck folklore story item. It’s called the Ekeko and it’s actually from the Sierra Mountains which is the mountainous area of Peru. They are little men, figurines of men dressed up in your typical Peruvian clothing with you know the little hats and moe of the mountainous clothing The Ekeko are dressed differently depending on what areas of Peru they are from. Most of them are fro the And is which his why they are wearing their little hats made of alpaca wool. They are all carrying a variety of different items. They are all carrying fake items but the goal is they are carrying riches and it is for abundance. You keep them at home and what happens is every Friday you put a cigarette… Thats why its mouth is semi open. you put a cigarette in there every Friday and then if the cigarette goes all the way, if it smokes on its own all the way then it means that the Ekeko is going to bring you all the stuff thats in there and it’s going to be abundant but if the cigarette doesn’t, if the cigarette only burns halfway and then stops then there might be some problems. The thing is there is a bad connotation not the Ekeko. If you have a teenage daughter the Ekeko could fall in love with the teenage daughter and scare away anyone who may fall in love with her. If that were to happen then the Ekeko is no longer bringing happiness into your home so you have to get rid of the Ekeko. So if you’re a young woman and your boyfriends are running away its because the Ekeko might be scaring him.”

Background information about the performance from the informant: “So the reason why it was told or why I was told it is that it’s just…a way to bring…that men can bring this into the home and bring goodness into the home and its just something thats really interesting is what women learn from it. When I got married for instance my aunt gave me an Ekeko and so now my family has our own Eekeko at home but we down do the cigarette part anymore because we forget and we down have cigarettes at home. So we got it as a gift so out home will be filled with abundance and riches and just kind of happiness. And that is a piece of folklore which I really like having because it is part of my families culture.”

Final thoughts: This sort of cultural good luck charm is something very common in many cultures. The idea is strongly connected with magical thinking  and the belief in concepts like luck. An Ekeko can also just serve as a cultural item which can help family bond over a shared ritual.