EL ALTO, Bolivia (Reuters) – A Bolivian miner has covered his house with sculptures of long-horned devils and other scary creatures, intended as a playful nod to the country’s colonial past but which has instead shocked some neighbors who fear a link to occult rituals.
The adobe-brick house in the high-altitude city of El Alto belongs to David Choque, who hired an artist to create the skeletal devils from cement and wood and installed them on his roof, doors and walls.
There is an imprint of a black skull on Choque’s front door and giant teeth around one window frame, below which an intricately carved dragon lurks.
Choque told Reuters he hoped the spooky house could spur local tourism.
“Close-minded people will think it’s something supernatural, but people need to open their minds and see it as a tourist attraction, something that can improve the area,” said Choque, who comes from a mining family.
“It’ll bring good things, not evil.”
Choque added that the sculptures are an allusion to life in Bolivian mines centuries ago during Spanish colonial rule when local indigenous men were frightened and forced into digging for silver.
The colonial masters would show miners images of devils and warn them they would be abducted by the spirits if they refused to work.
Over three centuries of Spanish domination, Bolivia, like Mexico, was a major source of silver that was shipped to Asia in exchange for goods like porcelain and silk, in one of the world’s first major commodity trades.
Some neighbors see the devils on Choque’s house, many with their mouths bared in grotesque grins, as signals to Satanic worshippers, and Choque laments he is battling baseless rumours.
One resident, Maria Laurel, said she has heard talk of naked rituals in the house. “The neighbors here are scared,” she said as she leaned against her car. “The truth is it frightens me.”
Choque denied any such rituals, and noted that similar depictions of devils appear on altars at mine entrances where workers often leave offerings including coca leaves and alcohol, believing this will protect them in the mines.
(Reporting by Monica Machicao; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Karishma Singh)