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.