Peruvian Art...
One of the richest and most varied on Earth

Ayacucho Weaver. Peru
Ayacucho Weaver. Peru - Daniel Moore

Peru is home to one of the largest varieties of arts and crafts on Earth.

Land of Master craftsmen who communicate principally through their works of art and have managed to survive despite years of economical hardship, political violence and a vicious insurgency that marked their lives and Peru's history until some years ago.

It's also scared tourism away and threatened their means of survival.

Artists who have preserved Peru's cultural identity, imbued with pre-Hispanic symbols and deities which has merged with religious iconography brought by the Spaniards and the Catholic church.

Folk art in Peru achieves its biggest variety and splendor in the departments of Ayacucho, Cuzco and Huancavelica.
Ayacucho artisans, descendants of the Wari tribe, have done their best to preserve the important tradition of Peruvian imagery.

Works of art, big and small, where Inca traditions and highland themes mix with the religion imposed upon them, using a language based on the key elements of fertility (Pachamama, the Mother Earth), abundance and faith in the future.

Take for instance the portable altars known as Retablos- Cajones de San Marcos or Saint Anthony boxes.
Ayacucho's district of La Libertad, in Huamanga, is home to the most exquisite Retablos de San Marcos.

Figures in these carved boxes appear at two levels: an upper level representing the heavens, saints, the Holy Family and Andean deities, and a lower level portraying life on Earth.

Let's watch this video about a famous retablo artist explaining his art (in Spanish)...

Huamanga stone carvings - esculturas en piedra de Huamanga - are another landmark of Ayacucho.
Born in Colonial times, as a result of shortage of marble and porcelain, they are most representative of Peruvian imagery as well.

Extracted from the nearby town of Huamanga, this white alabaster - harder than clay but less than marble - it's been widely used by Peruvian artists, frequently portraying religious imagery as well as scenes of the local culture.

Pottery is another manifestation of Peruvian art that goes back to thousands of years.
Forty kilometers away from Ayacucho we find Quinua, famous for the War of Independence, and a town of clay artists par excellence.

A place where you'll also find delicious naive-like chapels and pagan deities sitting on the roof tops.

And the list of Peruvian artisanship goes on and on.
From the delicate textiles and rugs weaved since the times of the Paracas culture - around 700 BC - to carved gourds (mates burilados), wood carvings, giant wax candles or the superb Silver ware and Filigree of Ayacucho's quarter of Santa Ana.

The following images are an introduction to this incredible and talented mix of Indigenous and Spanish cultural influence, and a small tribute to the many Peruvian artists and artisans we came to know, admire and respect along the way...

Peruvian Art:

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.../ Continue to Peruvian Art Part Two...


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