While embarking on our Cultural Tour with Costour, you will really get to travel into the country’s rich history and colorful culture. You will also get the chance to come across a very unique and precious piece of Costa Rican tradition.
La Nigüenta is an unusual ceramic or plaster figurine and folk icon. It is believed she has arrived from Europe at the end of the 19th Century.
It portrays a young naked girl sitting with one leg on her knee, picking parasites out of her feet. The bothersome critter in question is a nigua, hence the name la Nigüenta.
Niguas were a very common pest in Costa Rica when many rural people walked around barefoot. They dig into the skin on or between the toes, and the skin reaction can range from mild irritation to serious swelling.
La Nigüenta was traditionally used as an all-purpose household agüizote, or good luck charm. Offerings were left for her to ask for good fortune or a particular favor. Today, she is seen as primarily an enchantment to bring economic prosperity. It helps to tuck a few bills under her base, or to prime the pump, if you will. A Nigüenta received as a gift is a far more potent charm than one purchased.
Although the practice of owning and displaying la Nigüenta is dying folkway, many years ago, many Tico households had a reverent space for her.
These make fantastic gifts for any Costa Rican with a connection to cultural heritage or older relatives. They are also perfect for tourists maxed out on beer T-shirts, iguana hats and toy oxcarts.
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