Recent Activities Visa Information Consular Information
Popular Arts in Peru
Peru boasts one of the largest varieties of arts and crafts on Earth, as can be seen from the growing network of exporters who each year exhibit the skill of Peruvian craftsmen in Europe, Asia and North America. The diversity, color, creativity and multiple functions of Peru's folk art has made it a fundamental activity not just for Peru's cultural identity, but also as a way of life for thousands of families and even entire communities, such as Sarhua and Quinua in Ayacucho.
Works of art, both big and small, spark admiration amongst Peruvians and foreigners alike, are steeped in centuries of history, imbued with pre-Hispanic shapes and symbols which have merged with others brought over by the Spaniards. Peru has forged a multiple and complex identity which is paradoxically one of the reasons why Peruvian arts and crafts are tending to shift towards naïf art, lending their works a touch of innocence.

The excellence of Peruvian artisans can be seen in the harmony of the geometric designs in weavings, the minute portraits of peasant farming life on the carved gourds called mates burilados, the cultural mestizaje or blend in the colorful retablo boxed scenes. There are also the finely carved Huamanga stone sculptures, the complex Baroque nature of the wooden carvings, the beauty of gold and silver relics and the many forms that pottery has shaped the clay into pottery.
These works are just some of the cultural manifestations of a people who communicate mainly through art, using a language whose fundamental aspects are abundance, fertility and confidence in the future.
Peruvian culture, like the culture of many American countries, is a mix of native and European art forms. That's because Peru was settled by European explorers in the 16th century who brought with them new art forms.

Before the Europeans arrived, Incas ruled the land of Peru. The Incas were a group of natives who had mastered many art forms. In fact, they were so good at many art forms that parts of their culture were more advanced than European culture when they arrived. One of these art forms was pottery.

Pottery is the art of molding clay into shapes and letting it dry and harden. Pottery has been used to create sculptures. It has also been used to create practical things, like pots, cups, and dishes. The art of pottery in Peru was very advanced even before the Incas took control of Peru.

A group of people in the north called the Moche developed the use of the press mold. A press mold is a carved-out form in which wet clay was pressed. As the clay dried, it pulled away from the mold and was removed. The Moche used hard ceramic -- harder than clay -- for their press molds. Why would pottery makers use press molds? For two reasons: one, use of a press mold made making pottery quick. It doesn't take much time or skill to press clay into a mold. Two, because of this speed, much more pottery could be made with a press mold than could be by hand.

Artisans from Cusco are representatives of two traditions of high quality: the Inca and the Colonial. The style of the Imperial Inca is mainly characterized by the quality of its polish, the simplicity and nobleness of its shapes, as well as the sobriety in the decoration which is frequently imitated by artisans in Cusco these days.

          Back to top  
During the colony, the best pottery of Cusco was made with glasses. They mainly used green over the cream background with designs mostly fitomorphos, though this type of production is unusual nowadays.