Do you want to take a gift with personality and a nice finish? Wait, don’t buy in any store. Here I give you my tips to get the job of the best artisans in Peru.
The little churches: You can see them in every roof of Huamanga. If you want to buy the originals, you have to travel to Quinua, about 30 minutes. There are the artisans with a wide collection of ceramics that come out of their kilns fresh. They call it: “the people with the hands that speak”.
The altarpieces: These painted boxes house nativity scenes or scenes. There are all sizes and prices. You cannot leave Huamanga without seeing a character born before your eyes and they are made of potatoes.
Embroidery: In Huamanga you will find fabrics so fine that they appear three-dimensional. In Santa Ana you can visit the “Wari Urpi” workshops and see them work on their looms, moving their hands with agility and their feet as if they were playing the piano.
The fabrics: The highlight of the Shipibo crafts are their fabrics, all embroidered by hand, which tell about their worldview. In Yarinacocha you will find a craft center where women come to exhibit their work. Maroti Shobo is located on a corner of the Yarinacocha Plaza de Armas.
Ceramics: The same enigmatic designs are reproduced in ceramics. Graciela Valdez has her workshop in the San Francisco community. It is located on the straight, going up the steps that reach the community from the port, a few steps from the community fair where there are also beautiful fabrics.
Shamanic paintings and sculptures: From Pucallpa comes a tradition of paintings and sculptures, tributes to the Amazonian nature and the vibrations of the ikaros (ritual songs). Elena Réategui decided to give them a space in her Sol de Mayo lodging house, so that they have a place to expose themselves. With Elena you are in very good hands. Also visit the house of the painter Pablo Amaringo (Jr. Sánchez Cerro 465), he was a pioneer and some of his copies are for sale.
Chullos y chuspas: Impossible to visit Peru without taking a chullo (traditional hat). Buy a quality one like the ones they sell at the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (Av. Del Sol 603). They respect tradition and pay fair to weavers. The last one I took was in Amaru, a community open to experiential tourism where they welcome you with open arms.
Ceramics: One direction, San Blas, the artisans’ neighborhood. If you are looking for colonial type sculptures, you should go to Olave’s workshop (Plaza San Blas 651), creator of the Child of the Thorn and living cultural heritage of the Nation. In the Edilberto Mérida Gallery, there are his works with disproportionate hands (Carmen Alto 133). And at the Hilario Mendivil Museum, sculptures with long necks, a tribute to alpacas (Plaza San Blas 634).
Trendy: Today in Cusco, several concept stores were opened. They bring together contemporary artists who reinvent tradition. You can visit Macondo (Cuesta San Blas), the Puna art gallery-store (Calle Santa Teresa 375) or the creations of Cocoliso (Calle Palacio 122).
Fabrics: Those of Lamas (30 minutes from Tarapoto) are made of native white and brown cotton. They are the originals. In the shops around the Waiku Square, there is a little bit of everything, but searching well you will find the most traditional ones. Also at the Waska Waska Warmi Wasi Artisan Center, above the Waiku, almost at the foot of the Castle.
Ceramics: To see how they are made, head towards Chazuta, at 1h30 from Tarapoto on the banks of the Huallaga River. In this tradition, the brushes (chujchero) were made from the same hair as the artisans and the pigments are organic (Centro Cultural Wasichay. Esquina Jr. Chorrillos and Jr. Sargento Lores, Barrio Vista Alegre).
Chocolates: Also try a pure and delicious chocolate, it is art and those of La Orquídea (Santa Monica 200) are worth it. Visit the plant where they are made (dressed as a cosmonaut) and then stop by the store to try the bittercon kiwicha, the milk with coconut or mocha. They have more than 10 presentations. Some destined for export, you can only find them here.