Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco
Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa
The month of the artisan
Peru is known for being a people of artisans who cultivate ancestral traditions and cultural expressions. The country´s pride lies in these popular handicrafts that cover different areas and accompany daily life, ceremonial rituals, and contemporary creativity. The Day of the Artisan is celebrated on March 19, but the quality of artisan work is permanently experienced in Peru.
An artisan people
In Peru, there are places where the life of its inhabitants revolves around handicrafts. Cusco is a clear example of this: there are families from Cusco that are famous for their handicraft knowledge, which is passed from generation to generation and is recognized in the country and the world. The Meridas are natives of Cusco and practice indigenous ceramics following the teachings of the great master Edilberto Merida Rodriguez, who was recognized as a Living Cultural Heritage of the Nation and decorated with the Order of the Sun. His son Edgar Merida took the post and today he is followed by the third generation of artists and artisans Merida. This beloved family from Cusco is the founder of the Inkariy Museum, a private project to rescue and enhance the value of Peruvian history and identity, which can be visited in Calca, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The art of the Mendivil family goes back more than a century and a half; however, the peculiar style that has made them known as one of the most important families of artisans belongs to Hilario Mendívil and has been inherited by his daughter Juana (one of the few Peruvian winners of the Amauta Prize) and his grandchildren. The Mendivils have the honor of overseeing assembling the Christmas nativity scene in Cusco's Main Square. There are many stories like these. It's impossible not to stop about San Blas neighborhood -a 20-minute walk from Palacio del Inka a Luxury Collection Hotel Cusco- and its steep, colorful streets, known for being home to the city's most famous artisans. Here you can find the Olave Art Gallery, which features the work of Antonio Olave, another great early 20th-century artisan, and the Maximo Laura Museum, with the tapestries of the famous Peruvian textile artist. Full of stores and galleries, San Blas is the ideal place to find original handicrafts and take home a beautiful souvenir of the city. In Cusco there is also Pisac, in the Sacred Valley, 45 minutes from Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa. This district, in addition to having in its territory the Archaeological Park of Pisac, has a colorful market that is known worldwide for its varied offer of artisan pieces, where you can find textiles, clothing, bags, jewelry, accessories, tableware, and much more.
Handicrafts and traditional art shape many experiences in Cusco. Inside the Palacio del Inka, it is possible to see its magnificent collection of paintings of the famous Cusco school, which developed in the 17th and 18th centuries. The sample of paintings, furniture and popular art of Palacio del Inka consists of a hundred pieces, including originals and valuable reproductions, whose care and maintenance is carried out by the Ministry of Culture. The paintings, together with the ceramic pieces, are distributed throughout the hotel. In the main rooms, in the corridors to the rooms, even in the restaurant. In its courtyard, typical of Hispanic colonial architecture, Palacio del Inka opens to the light and the light blue of the wonderful Cusco sky. In the mornings, artisans and weavers from nearby communities bring their products and knowledge so that guests can talk with them, see their work firsthand and purchase some of their pieces. Around this courtyard, on the second floor, there are twelve colonial rooms: they are special bedrooms that stand out from the rest because they have reproductions of paintings from the Cusco school, hand-painted walls by traditional artists and replicas of colonial furniture that make the stay even more special. Tambo del Inka is the starting point for the Artisans' Route, an experience designed by Venturia: the tour includes Oropesa, a town in Cusco known as the National Capital of Bread; the workshop of the famous Cusco artist Carlos Olivera; the wonderful Temple of Andahuaylillas, considered the "Sistine Chapel of America"; finally, the town of Urcos, where you can appreciate the traditional Cusco embroidery.
A handmade country
Each Peruvian department has its own handicraft circuit. In Lima, you should visit the Las Pallas store, located in one of the most charming streets of Barranco; nearby, also in this district near the sea, are the Artesanos Don Bosco, a community to which dozens of artisans belong as part of a social initiative founded by the beloved Father Hugo de Censi, with the aim of supporting young artisans who want to stay and live in the Andes within their local community. Another good option to review the artisan offer in Lima is to take a stroll through the Inca markets of Petit Thouars, in Miraflores, very close to AC Hotel Lima Miraflores or Aloft Lima Miraflores. Further south, an hour and a half from Lima, begins the sunny department of Ica. If you enjoy a stay at Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort, it is highly recommended to visit El Chaco handicraft market, located in front of the Paracas traditional pier, as well as to plan trips to the Huacachina handicraft market, in Ica, or to the district of Grocio Prado, in Chincha, famous for its totora reed, reed and cane weaving. There are many reasons to celebrate the International Day of the Artisan in Peru. Peruvian handicrafts enjoy national and international recognition and prestige. These objects and traditions are an excellent route to understand the culture and idiosyncrasy of its native peoples.