Peru’s mythical ice-seeking Ukuku and its sensitivity to global climate change

Peru’s mythical ice-seeking Ukuku and its sensitivity to global climate change

If there is one creature from Andean mythology most impacted by the accelerated melting of Peru’s glaciers due to global warming, it would probably be the Ukuku.

Ukuku .:. A short film by Gaston Vizcarra Olivares

This mythic creature from Peru’s Cusco region is half-man, half-beast — the offspring of a peasant woman and a bear. The Ukuku is feared because of its supernatural strength, playful but amoral character and lack of rational judgement.

Stories tell of children killed by an Ukuku’s well-intentioned, but unintentionally powerful, slap on the back. Horses are split in two when Ukukus try to ride them.

But they also serve the community with the sacred, sworn duty of climbing the high Colquepunku glacier each year during the Quyllur Rit’i festival. There, they pray for the health of the people, and return with large chunks of ice strapped to their backs, which is melted and used in healing and spiritual ceremonies throughout the year. ¹

What becomes of the Ukuku who climbs to the highest Andean peaks, but finds no ice. How does he fulfill his sacred mission? With the glaciers gone, where will he go to fulfill his destiny?

That is the premise of this poignant and ironic short film directed by Gastón Vizcarra.

Ukuku – a short film by Gaston Vizcarra — (2009).


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Authored by: PeruTravelTrends

A Peru Tour Operator and Travel Agency: Since 1994 creating wonderful vacation experiences for adventure travelers and holidaymakers in Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca, and all around the Andean region.

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Charlene Coscarelli at 11:19 pm

    I love this, one of my favorite pictures.

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