Indio Picaro

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This charming little wooden statue can be found in your typical Chilean house. He is commonly known as el Indio Pi­caro which translates into “teaser indian”. This little fellow is made to resemble a Mapuche Indian with a big smile, however when you pick him up you will be surprised as his legs drop.

The Indio PÃicaro does resemble some sort of pre-Columbian indigenous woodwork however it’s story is more recent. In 1980, Jorge Medina Ramirez, Camilo Valenzuela y Alejandro Olave created this little statue as a joke to send to a friend. The little Mapuche made his way from it’s birth in the southern Chilean city of Villarica to Santiago and became a big hit. The artisans started to receive orders to make more and the increased popularity of the statue caused it to be manufactured. The Indio Picaro began showing up all over the world.

These statues are usually found in little artisan shops in souther-central Chile especially around the city of Temuco where there is a significant Mapuche population. They are made of wood and are used as a gag joke or as decoration. Most of these little statues are usually around 6 inches in height however you can find some as big as 5 feet tall. There is also an female companion called la Guacolda, that also when you lift her up shows you something shocking.

I was able to get my hands on the Indio Picaro that from my parent’s house in order to take a picture of it. I ended up taking a series of pics and created a GIF for you here.

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