Mi chanchito : Art museum patron is sucker for adorable pig

So I was down in Forest Park yesterday to check out Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea at the St. Louis Art Museum, and it was great. The show includes dozens of pieces of Mayan art related to the sea, rain, animals, and the gods that have never been shown in the United States before.

There are crocodile sculptures, funerary statues, duck-head vases, a pelican head…frankly it was a bit overwhelming because almost every piece has a rich mythic backstory and is executed with fine and complicated detailing. The whole time I was mesmerized by geometric configurations, stories of gods emerging from sharks, the idea of a cosmic turtle, and just how lovely a bloodletting ritual could be. Honestly, I need to go back to take it all in more fully. But I’m running out of time because the show is only in St. Louis until May 8…and then the world ends in 2012.

But it wasn’t until I hit the show’s gift shop that I became a true sucker. Usually I fly right past all the goodies laid out to tempt museum goers, but not this time. Delicately placed on a pedestal at the front of the store was a basket of adorable three-legged ceramic pigs from Chile called chanchitos. The name comes from the diminutive of chancho, which is a word in parts of Latin America for “pig” (both the four-legged version and the guy who your mother always warned you about). Normally the word chanchito refers to a piggy bank, but the chanchitos at the art museum were ceramic art obejects made in Pomaire, Chile that are exchanged between family and friends as good luck symbols. I was smitten and had to have one. And personally, I don’t think there is a luckier or more attractive swine than the one my wife and I picked out of that sales basket. (Though this Facebook page would take issue with us.)

Chanchito con sus nuevos amigos

Bringing our chanchito home made me do a little more investigation into Pomaire. The village is about 60 km west of Santiago and is home to some really amazing potters and pottery studios. It is also famous for its almost two-pound empanadas. My goodness, it’s almost lunch time and I’m ready to book a flight to Chile right now! (Here’s a great blog about the cuisine of the village and how to cure any cooking vessels you might buy there on a future trip.)

(Five-minute video en español on pottery arts in Pomaire).


2 responses to “Mi chanchito : Art museum patron is sucker for adorable pig

  1. Hello. I realize that this isn’t pertinent to the topic of this blog entry, but I wanted to make sure you saw this (I also posted it to your “sobre mí” page). I found your blog through a web search and I hope you can give me a little direction. I’m trying to locate a good-condition copy of Robert Heinlein’s “Citizen of the Galaxy” in the Spanish edition for a 12-year-old nephew in Colombia. I’ve been having a difficult time finding one and I thought that since you’re interested in SF literature and the Spanish language both, you might have some insight into how to locate this. You can reply to me via email at xxxx@xxxxxxx.com. Thanks!

  2. (I masked your email so others couldn’t read it—particularly data miners.)

    Hi Doug (and anybody else out there book shopping),
    The best places I’ve found to buy used books online are abebooks.com, bookfinder.com, and alibris.com, though you can often find decent books on powells.com and amazon.com, too. Just checking abebooks, I put “Citizen of the Galaxy” in the title field and “Spanish” in the keyword field and found 2 hits for Spanish language editions of that particular Heinlein novel. So there are obviously copies floating around out there on the internet.

    Hope that helps. And ¡buena suerte!