The Story Behind Peru's Phallic Gifts

| © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Brandon Dupre

If you’ve ever visited a Peruvian souvenir shop, then you’ve certainly found yourself facing a gift or two to make you giggle. But, those souvenirs have very strong cultural significance – they offer a deeper understanding of how the pre-columbian people viewed life, bonds of love and sexual interaction in the past. Read on for the history behind the plethora of penis gifts on sale all over Peru.

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Displayed among typical Peruvian souvenirs of keychains, llama ashtrays and alpaca gear, sits a range of oddities more fit for a sex store or a third-grade sculpting class – one of which is particularly hard to miss. Out there among the typical Peruvian souvenirs is an unmistakeably large, pink dick. Next to it is a holster with what looks like a gun handle sticking out, but after removing the would-be gun, reveals itself to be another, fairly large, pink dick attached to a gun handle.

Though always good for a laugh and a ‘look-at-what-I-found!’ call to your friend, after finding these dicks at nearly every gift store in Peru, you begin to wonder: why is this a thing?

If you ask the shop owner why it’s there, they’ll give you a smile and a shrug. There seems to be no reason for it – that is, until you’ve visited Museo Larco.


Museo Larco, which might arguably be Peru’s best museum, has an odd collection of hundreds of pre-Columbian claypot art and figures arranged in various sex positions – and, of course, there are dicks. You won’t be able to suppress a laugh or two as you make your way through the two-room exhibit, seeing your fair share of dicks turned into giant flowering pots and scatterings of animal porn. These penises, however, weren’t made for cheap laughs (unlike every third-grader carving a dick on his friend’s desk) – this erotic clay exhibit served a greater need.

So what’s their purpose?

“These sexual depictions are associated with other themes, such as agricultural production, funerary rites and sacrifice ceremonies, themes that can be seen in the other rooms and in the Larco Museum storerooms,” reads the museum’s website.

Using observation as guidance, society at the time associated rain, agricultural growth and life with procreation – and, therefore, with sex and the dick. A flower pot in the shape of a giant penis would then represent the life-giving action of ejaculation, remembered every day through the seemingly innocuous act of watering a garden.

A happy ending

“As we come to the end of this book on one aspect of the archaeological panorama of Peru for which our only source is erotic vessels, readers are free to explore for themselves the vast field of suggestion” (Checán, p.128), said Rafael Larco, an archeologist and founder of the museum, in his book Checán.

So, when next in Peru you find yourself face-to-face with a pink dick tucked into a gun holster, by all means laugh, joke, and maybe show your friend – but remember that while it may be funny now, as you hold it up for all to see, at one point in time it meant so much more than what we see in the present day.

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