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Peruvian Decoration is Important for Culture

Peru is quite likely the cradle of civilization in America (the continent). Historians have discovered that first civilizations of Amercia established in Sechin Bajo (near the current Casma, in Peru) over 5500 years ago.

Times were not very violent then. At least there were not remains of weapons or warfare near Sechin Bajo when archaeologists explored the area. People quite likely lived peacefully, spending their time in their fields and, of course, building items.

And guess what… even in those very old times decoration was important. Ruins show that they made decorative items for both practical and religious motivations. Among them, Peruvian decoration has traditionally represented their everyday life, their duties, idols, gods, and even sexual practices. It included ceramics, carved stone, clothes and buildings.

Centuries later, when Spaniards came to South America and conquered the region, they brought with them European cultural influences. Peruvian artisans adapted, and mixed the old with the new. They engraved, for example, gourds that mixed the ancient icons with Christian motifs.

And new artwork appeared as well, such as masks and retablos.

Centuries later, despite the passing of all that time, Peruvian decorative techniques are still with us. Artisans still create items that resemble the everyday life of the Andes or Amazon; they combine ancient iconography with more recent yet still traditional motifs, and preserve the old techniques.

Photograph of some beautiful Peruvian décor items made in Cusco

How Peruvian Décor is Done

Peruvian décor is made of different materials. We already mentioned gourds above, but we can also count on cloth, ceramic, semi-precious stones, several metals, white stone (which is rare worldwide yet common in southern Peru) and wood. Many artisans combine techniques to prepare their crafts. For example, they can combine wood and ceramics to create a Peruvian retablo; or they can combine ceramics and metals to create a wall plate. White stone, in turn, is quite malleable when it is removed from its source, but it gets harder and more durable a few days after.

As for where it is done, it depends on the region. Crafts are usually not made in urban areas, where western culture has taken over. They are made mainly in small towns in which traditions are preserved generation upon generation "the old way." In Peru, it is hard to find "industrialized" production of crafts. You can notice the difference because they all look the same, or because they are lighter and cheaper (in the case of alpaca clothes, for example). In Peru, buying these machine-made items is considered of bad taste. Handmade items are considered more valuable and worth buying. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons all of our products are handmade at Tinkuy is because we agree that handmade items are better.

A few retablos and engraved gourds made in Peru

Acknowledgements

Peruvian craftwork has earned many acknowledgements over the last few decades. The Huaconada and Tunantada dances, for example, have been acknowledged as an immaterial cultural heritage by Unesco, and you can buy original dance masks here at Tinkuy.

Like them, there are many Peruvian crafts, dances and traditions that are globally acknowledged and preserved. It may be one of the privileges Peruvians have for being the cradle of civilization in America; but anyway, this is why getting a Peruvian décor for your house is so important. Buying it, you motivate artisans to preserve traditions and to teach them to the next generation. If you neglect it for cheap products from your favourite online retailer, we all run the risk of seeing how these techniques get lost in time.

Check our offer of Peruvian décor here.