The bulls come from Pucara, an area between Cusco and Puno, and are called toritos de Pucara. These figurines were originally made as ritual elements of a cattle-branding ceremony. The bull figure, which is also a flask, was used to hold the chicha (fermented corn beer) and mixed with the blood of cattle and drunk by the high priest conducting the ceremony. The bulls are always placed on the roof so that they have a view of the apus, the mountains gods revered by the Incas. Given that Spaniards brought over cattle to the New World, it’s safe to say this ceremony and the toritos are not Pre-Inca and yet another example of New World culture fusing with the Old World.
While two bulls on a roof are pretty consistent, what accompanies them varies quite a bit. Often there is a cross and occasionally a ladder, which will help the family members get to heaven. At various times I’ve seen Peruvian flags, doves, horseshoes, parrots, roosters and even shovels accompanying the bulls.
Towards the end of our stay in Cusco my wife hunted for a pair of these bulls to bring back home and put on the roof our house back home in California, but our search turned up empty. We now have a good reason to come back.
Posted by Jason at 4:06 PM