POPORO: A National Symbol of Colombia

Discover the sacred union between heaven and earth

POPORO (-0300/1600) by CULTURA CATÍAFundación Aburrá

What do Poporos look like?

The "poporo" is considered to be a national symbol in Colombia. This device normally has a long neck and a bulky receptacle and is made up of various materials. It can also vary in appearance, most of the times it is phytomorphic, which is to say that it is inspired by vegetables, and anthropomorphic, where animals bear human characteristics.

Poporo (300-1600 A.D) by CatíaFundación Aburrá

This particular piece is inspired by plants, generally belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, such as gourds and pumpkins.

Poporo (300-1600 A.D) by CatioFundación Aburrá

Indigenous communities have associated gourds with femininity, fertility, and life.

Poporo (300-1600 A.D) by CatíaFundación Aburrá

This "Poporo" is in the shape of a bottle and is decorated with animal figurines.

Poporo (300-1600 A.D) by CatíaFundación Aburrá

This figure is a fusion between the classical and anthropomorphic forms.

poporo con alfiler (-0300/1600) by Cultura CatíaFundación Aburrá

What are its uses?

The Poporos were devices that indigenous cultures would use to store small amounts of lime used in the sacred ritual of "mambeo," which consisted of chewing the coca leaf with lime. To extract the lime from the receptacle, a metallic pin would be used. The "mambeo" ritual implied a deep respect for the plant and it was considered to be a form of communication with the divine, a very different use to today's destructive alkaloid.

Guerrero (300-1600 A.D) by CatíaFundación Aburrá

Warriors would carry their Poporos on their necks and would perform the "mambeo" in order to fight with strength.

Carguero (200-1600 A.D) by FinzenúFundación Aburrá

The carriers would also carry their own Poporos, which they would use to gain strength during their long journeys.

Poporo mamiforme (-0300/1600) by Cultura CatíaFundación Aburrá

What does the Poporo represent?

The Poporo is a symbol of a dual god and it represents the cosmic balance of opposites. The bulk part of the poporo or the belly represents the feminine elements, the "Pacha Mama" or Mother Earth, while the neck symbolizes the masculine elements. In the mambeo ritual, the lime is extracted using a metallic pin, which represents the moment the skies join together with the earth and breathe life to all creation.

The truncated base symbolizes the underworld, the sustenance of all creation.

The body is adored with breast-shaped globes that symbolize the fertility of Mother Earth.

The neck of the Poporo, is an erect column representing the sky, which is viewed in masculine terms. The painted triangles reinforce the idea of two opposites joining together.

The lid is made up of four spheres symbolizing the four elements and in the middle a small, winged bird is perched, signaling his dominion over the skies and his role as a spiritual messenger.

Credits: Story

David Acevedo Monsalve

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps