Handicraft made in Ayacucho


There is a big variety of handcraft items made in Ayacucho. It represents a mixture of the Spanish Colonial art with the indigenous style. In these days the techniques developed by these artisans are well known.

Outstanding the very famous "Retablos", "mates burilados", textiles, carved stone (from Huamanga), ceramics, silver ware, and "Tablas de Sarhua.



Tiny human figures, animals from the highlands, images of Christian saints and pre-Columbian gods, stars, mountains and lakes are just some of the elements found in the colorful world portrayed by the cajón or retablo de San Marcos. This art form, brought over from Spain, dates back to the dawn of Western civilization and was preceded by Roman portable images made up of three slabs that closed over each other. In the rest of Europe, this art form was known by the name of frontpieces, giving way to the monumental friezes that featured in church altars between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. The closest resemblance to the Peruvian retablo is the Caja de Santo, a sort of portable altar used in Spain as part of the paraphernalia of Catholic rituals. The Ayacucho artisans saw the portable altars as the perfect means to bring together two religious traditions –their own and Catholicism imposed by Spain– without arousing suspicion amongst colonial authorities bent on stamping out pagan idols. The retablo features two levels: the upper level, which portrays the Heavens, with saints and sacred Andean beasts, and the lower world, portraying the world down on Earth. These retablos were originally limited to the area dominated by Ayacucho shepherds and peasant farmers. And in fact the Ayacucho artisans are the ones to have kept alive this tradition, that is such a vital part of Peruvian imagery. The bestknown craftsmen who make retablos include the late Joaquín López Antay, Florentino Jiménez and Jesús Urbano. These three men gave rise to three schools or trends of the retablo: one which features a magical-religious current, another that focuses on regional customs and another with historic and realistic content. Today, styles and themes have multiplied as Cuzco emerges as yet another major retablo production center.


Mates Burilados

Pre-Inca handcraft. Made with empty squash shells, used to carry food or drinks. The Spanish artisans carved figures instead of the geometrical figures the indigenous carved. The images they carved were taken from real life situations.



Ancestral industry. Developed for more than three thousand years by these artisans. The indigenous were experts in this art. During times they had acquired modern techniques that improve their textiles. Nowadays, are well known and commercialized all over the world. Made with natural materials and dyes. They use alpaca and sheep wool. Creating sweaters, blankets, ponchos and carpets.


Piedra de Huamanga - Huamanga Stone Carvings

There are several kinds of stone that are used for carving in Peru: granite, basalt, andesite, piedra del lago (found in Puno), and the white alabaster known as piedra de Huamanga. Huamanga stone carvings started up in colonial times due to the scarcity of marble and porcelain. The early motifs dwelled on the infant Christ and other religious images such as saints, crosses, virgins and relics. Later craftsmen were to develop new religious motifs and images linked to the Creole culture (for example the image of the vicuña standing over the Castillian lion). Today, Huamanga stone carvings portray Nativity scenes within oval-shaped recesses, replicas of the monument of the Pampa de la Quinua (scene of a famous battle for independence), as well as other figures; all with a rough finish and mainly offered as souvenirs. Stone extracted from a city called Huamanga, close to Ayacucho. Harder than clay, but less than marble, has a certain kind of transparency. The artisans carve the stone creating very beauty images; it is considered as one of the most important art features from Ayacucho. Photos of Huamanga Stone Art



In Quinua, a village located 40 km from Ayacucho, pottery is the town’s main activity. The quality of the red and cream-colored clay lend these works a unique characteristic. Despite their simple, almost childish forms, they are highly expressive. Quinua is best-known for ceramic pieces such as small churches, chapels, houses and bulls called the toro de Quinua. Local potters have also become popular for figures such as peasant farmers, gossiping neighbors and a variety of religious themes.


It is another art characteristic that counts with more than three thousand years in Ayacucho. People from Quinua, a little town near Ayacucho, are the best artists that develop this work. The most common representations are the churches that are set on top of each house all over the region, as a tradition. Also important little bulls, candle holders and plates with traditional colors and decorations.


Silver Ware and Filigree

The abundance of this metal in the region allows the development of this art. Since Colonial times, creations of extraordinary beauty had been done, from very little jewels to big ones.

Santa Ana is a neighborhood in which you will find the most important artisans that work in silver.

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