Maximo Laura: Master Weaver - HAND/EYE Magazine 08/Peru

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08 SUMMER 2012 • $12


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02 IN THE BEGINNING by Josepha Nolte

30 SPEAKING IN CLAY by Marcella Echavarria

The complex origins of Perúvian visual culture

The poetic vision of Carlos Runcie Tanaka

06 DIVINE METALWORKING by Carole Fraresso

32 SMALL WORLDS by Colvin English

The heavenly metals of ancient Perú 10 NATIVE COTTON by Marcella Echavarria

The retablos of Mabillon Jimenez 34 INTREPID TRADITIONALIST by Karen Gibbs

Ancient varieties show their colors once more 12 TEXTILE TREASURE by Marcella Echavarria

Meet Mari Solaria and her curatorial eye 35 LOCAL ATTRACTION by Karen Gibbs

The gold of the Andes walks on four legs

Mamerto Sanchez, ceramic master

46 BEYOND CRAFT by Marcella Echavarria

The inventive textiles of Sumaqkay Paracas 48 EMBROIDERED RENAISSANCE by Marcella Echavarria

Colorful Ayacucho embroidery comes back to life 50 WORKING TOGETHER by Karen Gibbs

Kuskaya is gorgeous and socially conscious at the same time 52 WEARABLE ART by Marcella Echavarria


This annual event showcases Perú’s finest handmade resources 64 DISCOVER: SHOPPING IN LIMA

Where to find some of Lima’s best fashion and home offerings 66 DISCOVER: CUISINE IN LIMA

Perúvian star chef Gaston Acurio tells us where to eat 68 DISCOVER: OPEN AIR MARKETS

A guide to countryside shopping

The great knits of Incagreat



The unique world-vision of the Shipibo-Conibo people 20 CHULUCANAS RISING by Annie Waterman

A ceramics center readies for another rebirth

36 A LEADING WEAVER by Annie Waterman

Timoteo Ccarita practices politics and fine textiles 37 FAMILY AFFAIR by Annie Waterman

The Tarrillo family weaves in Cajamarca 38 TIME & COLOR by Musuk Nolte


08/Perú Principal Photographer takes us to Cusco

Jonathan Adler’s long creative engagement with Perú

40 MASTER WEAVER by Marcella Echavarria

26 CREATIVE PATHS by Marcella Echavarria

World-famous weaver Maximo Laura

Peripatetic ceramist Grimanesa Niihau’s

42 FAMILY TRADITION by Marcella Echavarria

The Oncebays are a weaving dynasty

28 MAKING A SCENE by Colvin English

Tito Medina carves amazing gourds COVER & RIGHT

54 OPEN INVITATION by Meche Correa

Calling all designers! 55 HORN PLAYER by Marcella Echavarria


HAND/EYE gratefully acknowledges our sponsors. The sponsorship of PromPerú has allowed us to publish the articles highlighted in teal.

Elvira Sanchez and her beautiful jewelry

Dear HAND/EYE readers, In recent years Perúvians have been lucky. We have had many reasons to feel proud. It’s a good time for our country, and a good time to share our beautiful culture with the rest of the world. Partnering with international allies like HAND/EYE, such a beautiful and inspirational magazine, helps bring attention to our amazing textiles, arts and crafts. In this issue you will find some of our uniquely Perúvian talent described in pictures and words which we hope will delight and inform. But we also hope that they tempt and seduce and convert you into being what we want every citizen of the world to be: a Perú lover, a lover of Perú.

What do you think of when someone says Perú? Probably the Andean fastness of Machu Picchu and the great Inca civilization encountered by the Spanish when they arrived in Perú in the early 16th century. Almost 500 years later, the spectacular landscape, and the layered blending of Inca, pre-Inca, European, Asian and African cultures unfolding within it, continue to fascinate. In 08/Perú, we capture just the smallest fraction of the art, craft and design of Perú. From revivals of ancient textiles to more recent folk art to upcycled fashion, there is so much to talk about and see that one magazine cannot contain it all. Perhaps we will go back to Perú for another look in the near future.

We will love you back. Of that you can be certain.

Meanwhile, enjoy this issue. And visit Perú. You will have an unparalleled adventure for all your senses. We did.

Isabella Falco

Keith Recker

Director of Country Image, PromPerú

Editor and Founder

HAND/EYE Magazine PO Box 921 Shelter Island, NY 11964

Founder and Editor Keith Recker

Principal Photographer Musuk Nolte

Creative Director Noah Hilsenrad

Graphic Designers Vicen Akina Gelsey Maslanka Amaya Segura

Deputy Editors Karen Gibbs Marcella Echavarria Colvin English

56 SOLACE AND SEEDS by Eduardo Lores

The thoughtful jewelry of Chechil 57 TIRE MARKS by Eduardo Lores

Recurseos recycles with panache


58 FRESH SOURCE by Annie Waterman

Nunalab’s sustainable sense of style 60 PARTNERSHIP AND PURPOSE by Gerry Cooklin

Conservation, development, and design blend in PaTS

MUSUK NOLTE —Shipobo textiles

The editors and staff of HAND/EYE Magazine are solely responsible for its content, which does not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Perúvian government.

If you are not already a subscriber, join us as we travel the world in search of artists, artisans, designers, and their living traditions. Our next issues take us to South Africa, and into the relationship between craft and compassion. Go to and sign up for our quarterly magazine and our weekly email updates. Back copies of 03/Central Asia, 04/Haiti, 05/ World Textiles, 06/Global Color and 07/New Mexico are also available.


The beauty of Perú’s PRE-COLUMBIAN cultures astounds us. Innovative TEXTILES are at the center of their artistic achievement – and are an asset to contemporary artisans, too.






erúvian textile production began more than 10,000 years ago, as evidenced by artifacts recovered in the Guitarrero Cave of the Ancash region. The first inhabitants of the Andean region developed a vast and exquisite textile tradition to provide for personal warmth, as well as to pay tribute to their rulers and pay homage to their deities. Depending on its intended use, each piece was embellished with a number of techniques,

All antique textiles from the collection of Lima’s Amano Museum. Preceding pages: Chancay tie-dyed and patched textile. This page, near left: Chavin painted textile. This page, far left, top: Chancay tiedyed textile. Far left, center: Wari woven textile.

and the backstrap loom was exploited to its fullest, to create works of great aesthetic beauty. The refined tastes of both artisans and users can be discovered in these textiles. The geography of Perú has effected the development of various cultures, each evolving its own level of organization, some of which were sufficiently complex to allow some of its members to specialize as craftsmen.

Far left, bottom: Chancay netting.


To satisfy the needs of their respective societies, sophisticated textile techniques were developed in single-culture and pan-Andean contexts. The raw materials most utilized were native cotton (Gossypium barbadense L) produced in as many as eleven colors (cream, black, red, green, blue, grey, violet, beige, brown and their variants), fibers of Andean camelids with vicuña being

the finest, and fibers extracted from various members of the agave family such as cabuya or maguey plants. Perú’s first civilization was formed between 3000 and 2500 B.C. in the Supe Valle, with several communities established as urban centers, which played a fundamental role in the distinct cultures that eventually emerged. Of some relevance is the recent discovery of a quipu, or group of knotted cords, used as a recording device by Perúvians some 5,000 years ago. Many textile splendors were manifested in different eras and regions throughout history. The Chavin Culture (900 B.C. - 200 BCE) of the high Andean region produced cotton textiles illustrated with intricate personages that were also reproduced in stone sculptures. The colors of Chavin textiles bear some resemblance to sepia photos of the last century. The Paracas Culture (700 B.C. 200 BCE) demonstrated a command of dyeing techniques resulting in at least 79 different tonalities attained using by-products of various Andean plants and animals as dyestuffs. Robes have been discovered in grave goods which have maintained their original color, demonstrating (particularly in the embroideries of ancient Paracas) a still-unmatched chromatic richness. The symbolic language of these goods is rich with strange mythical creatures. The Moche Culture (100 BCE - 700 CE) evolved on the northern coast, and its abundance of ceramic, metal and textile production is astounding. Feathers and small metal objects were incorporated into their clothing, resulting in original textures as well as a certain musical aspect. The Tiahuanaco (200 ACE - 1000 CE) and Wari (500 CE -1000 CE), cultures of the high Andean plains and Ayacucho, respectively, are distinguished by the designs obtained through techniques similar to woven kilims. According to the research of Alan Sawyer, the Wari began with a traditional and conventional style inspired by Tiahuanaco textiles, but then moved on to incorporate geometric icons. Wari designs allowed a distortion of the icons to adapt them for use on fabric bands, eventually leading to increasing abstraction and colorplay. Wari textile design might be considered the most modern, with considerable bravura in spinning and weaving. The extraordinary quality of Wari fabrics is evidenced by a fragment with an unmatched density of 398 hand-spun threads per inch. Textile production in the Chancay Culture (1100 CE - 1450 CE) surprises us with its diversity of backstrap loom techniques. Chancay weavers created a catalog of methods and designs

to allow their customers to order goods to suit their personal tastes. Chancay weavers developed techniques that were applied to the production of various pieces: gauze, nettings, and flat-woven cotton cloths tie-dyed and assembled as patchwork. Some of the work is strikingly modern: the simplicity of repeated geometric patterns on a single piece coupled with bold color combinations have resulted in Chancay textiles being recognized as a source of inspiration for contemporary designers. Incan textiles eventually dominated many of Perú’s regions. The elite enjoyed the service of female weavers kept in seclusion – said to be beautiful virgins. Woolen blankets, rugs and hangings were made across the Incan Empire for the palaces and temples. Woolen tunics were adorned with gold, precious stones and feathers. It is said that an Incan never wore the same outfit twice,

which further demonstrates the importance that textiles held in the lives of Andean men and women. Today, textiles continue to carry great importance in Andean life. From an early age, men and women learn to spin cotton, sheep’s wool and the lustrous fibers of Andean camelids. Though they’ve incorporated the use of the European pedal loom and have altered their designs in accordance with the diverse influences of colonialism and globalization, their distinct character has been maintained. One of the major additions to Andean textile customs has been the introduction of tailoring; previously, all the pieces were assembled from square or rectangular swatches taken directly from the loom. It’s no coincidence that contemporary artisan clusters are found in the same areas where Pre-Columbian cultures developed. Regions with high rates of artisan production include Cajamarca, Ancash, Junín, Ayacucho, Puno and Cusco, as well as in the northern coastal area now known as the Moche Route, which includes the provinces of La Libertad and Lambayeque. For present day Perúvians of these regions, globalization has presented an opportunity to contribute their talent and abilities to an ever-demanding and expanding economy. Deep and ancient cultural heritage is now an asset to be traded in the global marketplace. Josefa Nolte is a Perúvian anthropologist who has worked in the craft development sector for 40 years. She is currently National Coordinator for the UN Joint Program for Inclusive Creative Industries in Perú.


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Top left: Mochica nose ring, gold and turquoise, 200 BCE - 600 CE Bottom left: Mochica body ornament, quartz, 200 BCE- 600 CE Right: Chimú nose ring, silver, 1000 CE - 1476 CE TEXT


Andean metal working is one of the richest arts in history, and through it we can read the history of men who devotedly transformed gold, silver and copper for over 3000 years. Pre-Columbian jewelry has left a deep impression on humankind, as it embodies both knowhow and creativity and the memory of identities and lost rites of many Perúvian cultures, including Chavín, Vicús, Moche, Lambayeque, Chimú and Inca.

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Spanish documents dating from the XVIth century convey native myths and beliefs associated with precious metals. They shed light on the thought processes and the codes of Andean peoples living in a cosmological universe in which devotion, respect and harmony were of the utmost importance. The colors of gold and silver were associated with the Sun and the Moon. Each of these heavenly bodies rules the sky during the day or during the night and that is why for the ancient Perúvian societies they were principal gods. Thanks to their sacred light and apparent eternity, these precious metals became the material expression of godly powers. Gold symbolised the day god, Sun, who gave life and made plants grow. It evoked “the sweat of the sun,” the masculine divinities who lived in the upper world, the forefathers, supreme power and immortality. Silver symbolised the Moon, the night deity, the wife or a sister of the Sun. It evoked the “tears of the moon,” feminine divinities associated with the sea, water, and the lower and humid world, which gave birth to plants and was source of fertility. Both of these noble metals expressed the concepts of duality and complementarity, which were strongly rooted in Andean thought. Copper, a less noble and corrosive metal, was the element of mortal men. It symbolised earthly power, making contact with both worlds, and transformation - reflecting the change of the sun into the moon. Its bright colour evoked sacrificial blood, the major offering made to the gods.

-(:/06505. 76>,9 (5+ :6*0(3 0+,5;0;0,: Gold and silver, which are non- corrosive and immortal, malleable and resistant, but also rare and expensive, were the precious metals par excellence in ancient Perú. Their value wasn’t strictly economic but lay rather in their vocation of materialising the power of the gods and of the men who took on an important role in maintaining social order. In ancient Perú, gold but also silver and copper were above all sacred materials used to illustrate a cosmological way of mind and to display the codes of society by adorning bodies. The jewelry of ancient Perú is rather simple in shape; nevertheless, valuable metals and their alloys were beaten with real skill and the metal reduced to a thin leaf less than 1mm thick, and used to make ceremonial and funerary crowns, earrings and richly decorated ornamental breast plates. Sacred motifs were created with various techniques (embossing, chasing, repoussé, etc.) which were mastered as early as 900 AD.

Their true value, however, lies in the images they depict rather than in the precious metal from which they are made, as they display the fundamental motifs of pre-Columbian art. The goldsmiths, also called in Quechua amautas, used their art to indicate the three principal divinities symbolising the tripartite world in Andean cosmology.Perúvian inhabitants considered that the universe was formed by the sky which gave the rain (Hanan Pacha), the earth which was cultivated (Kay Pacha) and the underground world from which plants emerged and the place where the dead went (Uku Pacha). The three “worlds,” with the three coloured metals, were sacred and symbolised by the animals which dominated each of them: birds of prey such as the eagle, the owl or the condor in the upper world; felines such as jaguars or pumas on the earth; and snakes or spiders in the lower world, symbolized by the Moon. In this context, bodies adorned with sacred ornaments were endowed with the mission of worshipping the spirits and the gods, maintaining a link between the dead and the living and invigorating mythical cycles or the vegetable and animal kingdoms. Gold, silver and copper as value reserves and as ideological and sacred supports were dedicated to specific uses. Pre-Columbian civilizations used them as marks of social rank and of belonging to a certain group, as ostentation for the living and as inalienable possessions accompanying the dead into the tomb. They were both a magical way of communicating with the next world and remarkable objects of trade. These civilisations have handed down spectacular treasures from the intimacy of their burial places; sumptuous jewellery, ornaments, ceremonial arms and ritual artefacts are found side by side. The way they displayed gold and silver reveals unique information about these lost civilisations, because those precious, shining and inalterable metals influenced the development of their history and their relationship with the gods.

36:: (5+ -69.,;;05. *<3;<9(3 /,90;(., Perúvian gold and silver smiths, whose task it was to transform these sacred metals into jewelry and exquisite adornments, enjoyed a privileged social position and were close to those in power. They were perceived as direct intermediaries between the deities and men and as magicians who transformed elements from nature into shining, sonorous, eternal objects in the image of the gods. The disappearance of these treasures, brought about by the destruction of sacred and prestigious symbols and the melting down of tons of pre-Columbian art during the Spanish Colonial period, was associated by the Indians with the deprivation of power and identity. The loss of these symbols led to the collapse of the centres of political and religious power, taking with it the know-how, the rites, the formulas and the techniques of the prestigious pre-Columbian amautas. Carole Fraresso is the designer of the Motche Collection of gold jewelry. Visit the Larco Museum, Avenido Bolivar 515, Pueblo Libre, Lima, to see some of the finest pre-Columbian gold in the world. The Motche collection is sold at the Larco Museum store.

Left: Chimú Earring, silver-copper alloy, 1000 CE - 1476 CE Right: Mochica frogs necklace, gold with semi-precious inlays, 200 BCE - 600 CD




Colorful, textured and native, Perú’s COTTON is being rediscovered by design-oriented companies who will bring it to the world as a SUSTAINABLE and CHIC option in natural fiber.

Background: The warm colors of native cotton. Inset: Native cotton being woven on a backstrap loom.


s the world begins to understand the true environmental, health and cultural costs of “cheap” industrial cotton, a renewed emphasis is being placed on alternative fibers such as native, heritage cottons that can be raised sustainably without chemicals, pesticides and with a minimum of natural resources involved. According to U.S. designer Docey Lewis, “Currently, native cotton is a niche product targeted to the luxury market. Handspinning and handweaving are rather dying arts that enhance the natural, coarser texture of native cotton with medium to short fibers that are particularly well suited to artisanal products. The hope is that design and access to luxury markets can reclaim the value of native cotton and artisanal techniques.” Native cotton grows in Perú’s northern provinces of Lambayeque and San Martin. Also known as Algodon aspero and Algodon del pais, it is a variety of Gossypium barbadense perúvianum. Native cotton is a perennial shrub naturally resistant to pests, droughts, bacterial and fungal diseases, and suited to lowinput, organic agriculture. It tolerates a broad range of soil conditions and adapts well to a variety of altitudes – growing well up to almost 2000 meters above sea level. Scientists have shown it can endure in sandy soils for up to five years without water. Its natural color palette ranges from deep ochres, terra cottas, and umbers to olive greens, light blues and creamy whites. Dyes are not required. The many colors of native cotton, delivered thanks to the plants’ genes, are independent of altitude, soil and water conditions. Plants of differing colors can be found growing next to each other in many locations. Over time, the artisanal cultivators of native cotton have identified and preserved seeds for various colors. Regrettably, some colors are thought to have been lost. For many years prior to and during the Inca period, native cotton was one of the principal agricultural products of the Supe Valley in northern Perú. There, archeologists have unearthed seeds and cotton bulbs at the Citadel of Caral (circa 3,000 BCE). Both Inca and pre- Incan civilizations made burnt textile offerings to the gods, and there is also evidence that the ancient people of this coastal area filled the bodies of the deceased with native cotton for mummification. At the Sipan tomb, an important Moche site, many richly decorated tunics and other native cotton textiles were found buried with the lord of Sipan, reinforcing his important social status. Native cotton is still used by the people of the region as a folk medicine to control topical infections, a practice that may have started with the Incas. According to Giovanna Balarezo, founder of Tallerqata, a beautifully designed line of textiles and children’s clothing made of native cotton, “In modern times, native cotton has not been valued in Perú or elsewhere because of the availability of


pesticides, cheaper industrial cotton and the vast array of colors produced by chemical dyes. Until recently, native cotton was banned and its cultivation prohibited because it was thought to draw pests to neighboring industrial cotton fields. Much native cotton seed was lost during this period. Small efforts to recover this heritage fiber started in Perú in 2004, and in 2008 it was finally declared a cultural ethnic genetic patrimony.” Expanding even further on its ecological benefits, James Vreeland, founder of Perú Naturtex, the first fair trade certified textile company in the Americas, says that native cotton uses less water, is far less chemically dependent, resistant to insects and diseases, and is compatible with other crops. “We believe the principal challenge facing this fiber is a human one. Native cotton is a beautiful fiber, offering many sustainable virtues. Regrettably, sustainability often has trouble competing with the lopsided accounting of industrial production, which produces “cheap” goods by deferring substantial costs to our health, environment and cultural traditions. The solution is an educated consumer, aware of the “hidden” value of organic sustainable goods, and willing to pay for them. I travel regularly to Lambayeque and its environs, have spent time building relationships with native cotton cultivators and weavers, and am convinced that native cotton and the culture surrounding it will survive if there is a demand for it.” Tallerqata’s Balarezo adds, “That is exactly what we’re trying do at Tallerqata—generate demand for sustainable, traditional products as a means of preserving the cultures around them. We believe that by designing beautiful goods for the contemporary market, made from this remarkable organic fiber by artisans using their traditional methods, we can produce demand in places where consumers value sustainable products.” Historically, the remarkable and complex weaving techniques in cotton, camelid fibers and sheep’s wool that have been excavated in Nazca and elsewhere in Perú continue to astound weavers all over the world. Part of the reason that these techniques developed was that the Incan rulers demanded and paid for exotic textiles to use both in the present life and the hereafter as status symbols. Balarezo’s emphasis on beauty needs to find a market equally interested in quality. For native cotton, as for organic food, finding a market will require education of the consumer to understand the real costs to our health and the environment of industrial cotton, chemical dyes and their products and the value of sustainable artisanal goods and the culture that produces them. For more information see, and







Perú’s many national treasures include the soft, lustrous fibers harvested from VICUÑAS , alpacas, llamas and guanacos, which have populated the highlands of Perú for 5000 years. Today, Perú transforms them into warm luxury products valued the world over.


outh American camelids include llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicuñas, all animals native to the Andes. Today as in pre-Inca times, Andean highlanders make use of everything from camelid hair to droppings. Charqui, dried llama meat, nourishes them. Llamas provide transportation. Hides are used for leather products, their coarsest hairs for ropes, and droppings are burned as fuel to ward off the chill of the highlands. But it is their fleece that is the real treasure. Specialized breeding of alpacas for fiber production was developed around 500 BCE by the Pukara in the Lake Titicaca region of Southern Perú. Several centuries later, the Incas were remarkably successful in refining the domesticated alpaca. Archaeologists have found mummified alpacas at Incan burial sites whose fleece is far finer than any known today. It was the Incas who developed the alpaca into two distinct fleece types, the huacaya and the less common suri. The huacaya alpaca produce crimped fleece appropriate for bulkier yarns, while the suri produce a silkier texture used to make refined wovens. The Spanish invasion of 1532 destroyed the Inca’s breeding program. Enormous alpaca herds were eliminated. Survivors were forced higher into the altiplano while prime grazing lands were taken by the Spaniards for their sheep and cattle.


It is believed that cross breeding between alpacas and llamas contributed to the decline in fiber quality. Today, there are approximately 4,000,000 alpacas in Perú, the largest producer of alpaca fiber in the world. Although there are a few large landowners with sophisticated breeding programs in Perú, the majority of alpacas are being bred by pastores campesinos—highland Indian herdsmen living mostly in poverty. This is where Grupo Michell, a leader in Perú’s modern camelid movement, comes in. Mallkini, their alpaca ranch, research center and hotel complex, is located in the highlands of Puno. The property is surrounded by a forest of native species intermingled with newly planted eucalyptus trees. There are rivers, creeks, birds of all kinds and the vast panorama of the highlands. Moises Asparrin, Mallkini’s farm manager, planned to stay at the farm for three months. That was 12 years ago. He was seduced not by the landscape or even by the salary. “The main thrust of Mallkini is its role as a social project. We improve the animals and share them with the communities so that they too can produce fiber that can be sold at a good price – which allows them to have a dignified life here in the mountains. We have also started a sort of boarding school near Mallkini so that kids that live three hours away on foot or horseback can get a good education and have choices available to them both personally and professionally.” Michell’s efforts to soften camelid fibers has been a priority since 2000, when the company started an alpaca breeding program. The idea is to produce fibers that can compete with mohair, cashmere and quiviut. Using state of the art methods, Michell is making progress. The results are fibers of higher perceived value on the international market – good for the company – but also the creation of jobs and incomes which will improve the lives of many highland villagers. In Arequipa, owner Derek Michell is often on hand to show the most important aspects of the family business: sorting the fiber, which is something that needs to be done by hand and requires very good eyes and sensitive fingers. Fibers are sorted in batches, separated according to their 52 natural colors and textures. Once sorted, fibers are washed, separated, scoured, carded and spun into yarn dyed according to inter-national color trends. As he sorts, he’s pleased to describe the reach of his company: The Michell Group provides work to more than 2,500 people and sells its products in more than 35 countries. Thankfully, efforts to make camelid fibers more competitive internationally are being pursued alongside clear social goals. Andean herdsmen need to progress together with the corporate sector because it is they who carry the legacy of their ancestors forward, and they who make it possible for Perú and the rest of the world world to enjoy luxury camelid fibers. For more information on everything related to camelids in Perú, visit,, www.pacomarca. com, and







Living at the farthest reaches of the Amazon River basin, the Shipibo-Conibo see the

PATTERNS of the universe outlined in everything around them. They express this heavenly vision in geometric



drawn carefully on ceramic pots and cotton textiles. Their otherworldly sense of beauty is uniquely PerĂşvian.


nown for the intricate artwork adorning their ceremonial and quotidian artifacts, the Shipibo-Conibo peoples have traditionally been found in the most remote parts of the Amazon river basin. Even with access to the developed world increasing daily, the tribes have maintained a culture rooted in their home environment. Every aspect of their lives is influenced by the natural world, and by a conviction that how they journey through this life affects the next.

Preceding pages: A Shipibo-Conibo Mother Earth vessel. This page: A pattern-covered Shipibo-Conibo textile.


The Shipibo-Conibo are perhaps best known for their use of ayahuasca (banisteriopsis caapi). This sacred vine, found throughout the region, reaches through the jungle, from its earthen floor to its sunlit canopy. In the symbol system of the Shipibo-Conibo, it connects the earth and the universe. By drinking a tea made from the plant, the tribe members enter an enlightened state of consciousness where they can see the patterns of the universe inherent in all matter.

The intricate patterns they see, while complicated, are ordered and often symmetrical. They are thought to represent the patterns of our being and the integrated system of life in our universe. The geometric lines represent the order of our cosmos that is repeated for all eternity across the many facets of our being - rivers working their way through the world, stars trekking across the night sky, the veins of the universe. These patterns reflect the energy that is the giver of all life.



COSMOS the order of our

More Shipibo-Conibo textile and ceramic artifacts from the collection of Mari Solari.



Shipibo-Conibo women are the primary artists of this tribe. As young girls, piri piri drops (cyperus articulatus) are placed in their eyes. This allows them to remember the patterns the ayahuasca shows them. Because the patterns are revealed to the users of ayahuasca, and are not something merely created, those who can see them share the same vision. This results in each finished piece, even though a single set of hands has created it, delivering an image all artisans recognize and understand, as they have seen the same unique pattern the universe has assigned to the objects being adorned. No two pieces of Shipibo-Conibo art are the same, just as no two objects or beings are exactly the same. Each piece represents its own unique aspect of the universal order.

In many tribal environments, resources are scarce and material possessions are limited to items necessary for survival – both physical and spiritual. The ShipiboConibo are no exception to this. In an effort to express their unique take on our cosmos, their artwork has been integrated into their daily lives by being applied to a wide variety of goods from traditional low-fire terra cotta pots, to painted cloths and embroidered textiles. Ceremonial pieces include anatomically correct human images: the complex patterns of life are tattooed across their ceramic torsos. As their exposure to the rest of the world increases, the tribeswomen have started to produce items solely for sale to the tourists who visit their Amazonian villages. But the sacred nature of their work remains, so far, central to their way of life.

As much as we may hope to understand the culture and vision of the Shipibo-Conibo, the true meaning of their adornment remains somewhat of a mystery to the world outside of the Amazon rainforest. All we can do is enjoy the work that reaches us from their remote homelands, and marvel at their skill and creative inspiration. Fine Shipibo-Conibo work can be found in the shops of knowledgeable retailers in Lima such as Las Pallas in Barranco, Tierra y Agua in Miraflores and Martin Ccorisapra in San Juan de Lurigancho. HAND/EYE Deputy Editor Colvin English consults with handcraft artisans around the globe on developing their businesses and reaching new markets. He has worked in PerĂş for the last decade.

REPEATED for all eternity



RISING CHULUCANAS The pre-Columbian ceramic techniques of CHULUCANAS were revived in the 1960s and reborn in the 1990s. It’s time for a new Renaissance of this gorgeous tradition.




n the town of Chulucanas, nestled near the Piura highlands of Northern Perú, a unique style of ancient pottery is being revived. The beauty of this modern day rebirth has spurred the attention of craft organizations, entrepreneurs, designers and customers alike, and all helping to find innovative ways to increase market demand and re-integrate this craft into local and international markets. The origins of Chulucanas ceramics stem from the Pre-Columbian art of the Vicus, and reflect techniques more than 2,000 years old. Production methods involve a firing process with mango leaves, a slip-resist technique and a burnishing process using tiny stones, making these ceramics incredibly unique. One of the most resonant aspects of Chulucanas wares is the entirely hand made process. There is nothing mechanized about it, and the traditional methods


used show signs of the Vicus’s close relationship to their resources and their land. A potter first works with locally harvested clay, which is purified then shaped, coiled, pinched and beaten, using a wooden paleta to solidify the form and even out its thickness. Pigment colorings are applied to develop the base color during the first firing. Next a mineral-based paste is applied in patterns to protect the base color during the second firing – during which locally harvested mango leaves are placed in the kiln. All but the parts protected by the mineral paste turn beautiful shades of brown, from soft caramel to deep espresso, based on the length of firing. Once fired, the mineral based paste is carefully chipped away, and patterns based mostly on the positive and negative play between the colors of the base and the smoky mango leaf overlay emerge. The object is then burnished by hand rubbing small, smooth pebbles across the fired clay to give the surface its polished look. During the 1960s, the potters throughout Chulucanas were looking for new market opportunities. The Moncada and Sosa families began a study of early

Perúvian decorative ceramic methods. They were among the first to introduce contemporary ideas and alternative designs, which is the beginning of the 20th century revival of the craft. During this time, both the Sosas and the Moncadas began making fruit and animal shapes, later adding human figures. The most popular pieces included beer-brewing chicheras, women with children, entire families and dancers. Starting in the mid 1990s, Chulucanas underwent a design revival with the support of Aid to Artisans, ADEX, designer Mimi Robinson, and Perúvian enterprises Allpa and Berrocal. Both Allpa and Berrocal have been instrumental in providing the artisans with needed materials and improved production techniques in order to expand their production and increase their sales. Allpa is a Perúvian craft company


that began working in Chulucanas in 1997. At that time, conditions in Chulucanas were poor, but with increased ceramicbased employment, incredible progress has occurred. Alexander Calle Sosa, an artisan working with Allpa says, “If I were to summarize Allpa, I would say that they are filled with innovation and constant development. Working with Allpa is to have the support of a responsible and innovative company, concerned about the craftsman, providing business advice and technical assistance for improving production. You feel like you’re not alone.” After U.S. designer Mimi Robinson developed new collections, sales began to soar. They excited the market by introducing contemporary forms, modernized patterns and new color ways. Her designs quickly attracted the interest of large U.S. retailers, and the orders created improved artisan incomes. From the start, she found Chulucanas artisans to be very receptive to new ideas, openly and easily experimenting with color, pattern and production techniques. She describes them as a “collaborative, entrepreneurial people,” with whom she’s become a part of a “creative community. The entrepreneurial spirit of the artisans has made it a joy—and relatively easy—to try new things, experiment and explore the opportunities of Chulucanas.” Mimi continues to work in Chulucanas, and her deep passion for this area and its people keeps her looking for new ways to develop products and unite artisans with new clients. Fifteen years later, however, sales have quieted somewhat – and it is time for a new infusion of design and innovation. But the community is ready to build on their strong relationships in the market, and with Mimi and other designers. Mimi adds, “Chulucanas artisans have great strengths in looking for new markets. They have proven capacity, a unique technique, and deep expertise. Everyone along the supply chain needs to come together to brainstorm a new vision and strategy for Chulucanas to establish value added products, and to attract markets appreciative of this true treasure of Perúvian craft.” Come to the Perú Gift Show to see several offerings of Chulucanas pottery.


All images: Scenes from a Chulucanas ceramics workshop


You don’t hear the phrase celebrity potter very often. JONATHAN ADLER may, in fact,

be the only one. You might be surprised to learn that the brio he brings to ceramics, textiles, furniture and more has its roots in Perú. He tells all to HAND/EYE contributor Mark Welsh.



H/E: What impact has your business had on the potters at your workshop?


AND/EYE: You hung out your potter’s shingle in 1993, and by 1997 business was so brisk that you began producing ceramics at an Aid to Artisans-ordained workshop in Perú. Is that what they call “the potter’s fast track?”

JONATHAN ADLER: I wish it had been faster! I spent four years as a production potter working 7 days a week, 14 hours a day. I would get to the studio at 7:00 a.m., turn on NPR, and I knew it was time to go home when All Things Considered came on for the 78th time. I was burnt out. Like many craftsman I was frustrated with the grind of running a cottage industry. I knew that the only way to grow my business and grow creatively was to get help with production but I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t have any capital, I had no connections, and, to be honest, I couldn’t afford to take time to look for resources. But I knew that I couldn’t afford not to find a production resource. When Aid to Artisans suggested a workshop in Perú, I got on the next plane. H/E: Take us on the journey of a Jonathan Adler pot. How does a lump of clay in your New York design studio become a gorgeous ceramic objet on someone’s coffee table?

JA: All of my ceramic pieces begin their life in my Soho studio. A good example is the Dora Maar vase. We painstakingly make the prototype from clay. I throw the form on the potter’s wheel and then we sculpt the decoration, fire it, and send it to our workshop in Perú. Then they make a mold and hand-slip cast the piece in porcelain. Or, for something like the Moko vase, I throw the original piece in my studio making sure the lines are just right. Then I send the prototype to the workshop in Perú and the skilled potters hand-throw the production to my specifications. There are always some unexpected wrinkles in the process. I named the Moko collection after a jet black African sculpture that I had seen. Unfortunately, in Perú the word Moko means … wait for it … snot. The Perúvian potters have gotten plenty of chuckles out of the Moko collection. H/E: Aid to Artisans played a major role in your Perúvian introduction. How did that all come about?

AND PERÚ Vessels from the Jonathan Adler’s Utopia collection. Right: A vase from the Moko collection.

JA: Aid to Artisans (ATA) is fabulous. Their mandate is to connect designers with artisans in developing countries in a business relationship that benefits both parties. They seemed too good to be true. But true they were. The folks at ATA facilitated the beginning of my relationship with my Perúvian workshops. Then they were smart enough to get out of the way and let capitalism occur. The truth is that my business couldn’t succeed based purely on good vibrations—I had to figure it out from a business standpoint. ATA was there to help but wasn’t too intrusive.


JA: I hate to sound like the Angelina Jolie of the craft community, but it’s been tremendously gratifying to see the growth at the workshop and the hundreds of jobs that have been created. I think my happiest moment was when I learned that one of the workers named her son Jonathan. Very, very sweet. But, again, I ain’t a saint. This has been a relationship that has benefitted the workshop and benefitted me! H/E: How does your Perúvian workshop differ from, say, an American factory?

JA: For starters, the workshop is beautiful. It’s in the countryside and surrounded by beautiful gardens and right near the beach. And at lunchtime, all the potters run into the field and play an impressive game of soccer. H/E: How did venturing to Perú change your business?

JA: Of course Perú changed my business unimaginably— I went from being a one-man band with a small cottage industry to having a real business. But, more importantly, Perú changed me creatively. I now have the best job in the world— I design anything and everything I want—and I could never have gotten to this point if I hadn’t found ATA and Perú. H/E: Are you influenced by the Perúvian aesthetic, consciously or otherwise?

JA: This whole interview has been about my pottery, but equally important to me has been my work with Perúvian weavers. Perú has an incredibly rich textile tradition. I fell in love with Perúvian textiles, met a weaver, sketched some pillow designs and started making textiles. Now I make pillows and alpaca throws and llama wool rugs in Perú and textiles have become a passion of mine - and a huge part of my business. H/E: Of the many collections you’ve produced, does one stand out as the perfect melding of Jonathan Adler and Perúvian vibes?

JA: I believe that the key to good design is beautiful craftsmanship—simplicity married with exquisite materials and techniques. I think that my hand-loomed alpaca throws are a perfect melding of my sensibility—pop patterns, simple forms, crisp colors—that take on a much richer life when they are woven by incredible Perúvian artisans using hand-dyed alpaca wool. I love that tension between modernism and traditional craftsmanship. H/E: You’ve professed a weakness for sweets. Do you have a favorite buttery Perúvian treat?

JA: Perúvian food is SUBLIME. They make these caramel filled biscuits called alfajor cookies that are figure-destroying. The ceviche is also amazing. But, truthfully, it’s the people that keep me coming back. Sorry to sound so cheesy but it’s true. For more information, see



Some people bring home photos and souvenirs when they travel. Designer and ceramist GRIMANESA NEUHAUS brings home hand-rendered patterns and new relationships with traditional potters from all over PERÚ, which evolve into sophisticated Perúvian tableware.




started my journey with clay and ceramics out of curiosity – and plain old luck. In 1975, during a break from my studies in psychology, I decided to try a ceramics class. Since then I have been completly covered in clay,” designer and potter says Grimanesa Neuhaus. Her novice days are far behind her, and she is now known throughout Perú for handmade tabletop ceramics that reveal where she has traveled and the cultures she has studied. Grimanesa has worked along the coast in Cholucanas, Piura and Santo Domingo de los Olleros, where people still make the same pots as they did in the Colonial period. In the highlands she has worked in Quinua, Ayacucho; Pucará, Puno; Taricá, Ancash; Huallay, Cerro de Pasco; Puno and Cusco. In the jungle she collaborated with people in San Mateo, Iquitos and the Shipibo-Conibo from San Francisco, Pucallpa, whose ancestral knowledge is expessed in masterful geometric designs. All of these encounters resulted in new ceramic collections. On the road, Grimanesa enjoys not only learning about techniques and traditions but also sharing simpler lifestyles. Traveling for her turns into a meditation on other ways of living, and older ways of expression. The main satisfaction she derives from her carrer is the opportunity to elevate and highlight very old techniques. Her main challenge has been to teach contemporary standards of quality while respecting cultural identity and creativity. She emphasizes quality control so that the ceramics she creates with her artisan partners can be used on con-

temporary tables. Her work is used in sophisticated places like the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, where she developed an exclusive collection inspired by the Masdevalia, a native orchid, mixed with ferns inspired by Inca ceramics. She has also made a pattern for the Hotel Monasterio in Cusco based on Perú’s national flower, the Cantuta, a favorite Inca motif. Grimanesa also reached beyond Inca tradition, into pre-Inca and Colonial styles, as well as into folk art from remote villages. Her journey is one of reverence and admiration for Perúvian history and traditions. One of her most distinctive collections is del Molle, based on a Perúvian plant. For this collection, she uses copper green patinas introduced by the Spanish in the 17th century—considered by many as Perú’s first ceramic glazes. As she looks beyond Perú for new markets, Grimanesa clearly sees price as the main challenge faced by Perúvian ceramics: Perú is unlikely to compete with mass-manufactured goods from Asia. But she is just as clear on the answer to this challenge: few can compete with Perú when it comes to cultural identity, quality and a willingness to experiment. You can find Grimanesa’s table top collections at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge and Dedalo in Lima. Left: Grimanesa’s green del Molle collection is inspired by 16th-century glazes. This page, top: Grimanesa Neuhaus. Center and bottom: Grimanesa’s ethereal tableware designs.








Fourth generation carver TITO MEDINA records vignettes of highland Perúvian life on the surface of gourds with incredible skill. Deputy Editor Colvin English traveled to Huancayo for a talk with him.




ourds have been used in Perú for at least 4,500 years for utilitarian and decorative purposes. Artist Tito Medina and his workshop of carvers use a uniquely Perúvian style to tell stories great and small about their culture and their everyday lives ... in gourd form. Known locally as mate, gourds are grown and dried in coastal regions where water is plentiful. Many centuries-old trade routes along which raw gourds traveled country are still intact today. Many rural homes still use gourds to drink homebrewed corn liquor – chichi – or to store quinoa and rice. The motifs carved into gourds show us significant community events, and even give a window into the private lives of the carvers’ families. Pastoral scenes illustrate the chores of daily life – farming, cooking, weaving and hunting. Religious ceremonies – weddings, funerals and feasts – are also depicted. Carefully rendered plants and animals give us a catalog of the living things surrounding the carvers. When viewed together, these gourds form an important historical document, with every aspect of life and death shown in great detail. The sgraffito technique that transforms humble vegetables into storytelling documents has changed very little across millennia of gourd carving. Once dried and washed, the artisan uses an awl shaped from a nail to scratch through the hard outer surface of the gourd to create the pattern. Then liquid chalk or ash is used to fill in the carved surface and illuminate the design. Sometimes artisans use hot metal to heat-engrave shadows. Recently, modern dyes capable of penetrating the hard surface of the gourd have been added to increase the range of colors and appeal to modern buyers. While the gourds have a utilitarian history, there are several artisans who have taken the traditional carving to a new level. The central plateau communities of Huancayo and Ayacucho have become home to some of the most accomplished carvers in the region, and Tito Medina is one of the best. Tito’s family has been carving gourds for more than four generations. His ancestors made mostly utilitarian goods, and were known for their quality craftsmanship. But Tito’s parents started developing a more decorative outlook in the 1970s and 1980s, just as six-year old Tito came into the business to work alongside his family. At this time, characters and images on the gourds became smaller and more detailed: more complex stories and completely carved surfaces clearly showed off an artisan’s carving and storytelling skills. When Tito started working independently, he incorporated more carving and a more contemporary design aesthetic, advancing the art form and creating a place for himself among the small cadre of artisans forging a modern market for an ancient tradition.

Tito has pioneered the use of mixed materials, adding silver accents to his pieces beginning in the early 2000s. This has helped to elevate the perceived value of his gourds. He has also added contemporary geometric patterns to his pieces, and sometimes pierces through the gourd to offer a glimpse into its unfinished interior. The Medina taller (workshop) in Huancayo employs 12 to 15 artisans. Under Tito’s direction his craftsmen learn the Medina family’s techniques to produce thousands of pieces each month for customers around the world, mostly boutique stores in the United States and Europe. The taller’s export work consists mostly of ornaments and figurines created from the smallest gourds. The shop also produces numerous small boxes and miniature nacimientos (Nativity scenes) with the holy family housed in a stable formed by an open gourd. This relatively high-volume production work allows the public at large to have a piece of ancient art in their homes. But Tito’s personal passion is his collector’s line. Some of his larger works, measuring two dozen centimeters in circumference, take months to create, and he is only able to make several dozen pieces in a given year. Demand for his work is high, with pieces ranging in price from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Tito designs his collectible work with an eye to preserving the craft’s ancient forms. Celebrations, pastoral life and the events of the everyday life are his muses. Each scene is rendered with hundreds of precisely detailed individual miniature portraits floating across its surface. With such limited production, most pieces are sold directly to visitors to Tito’s shop on Petit Thouars in Lima, or at his taller in Huancayo. Tito’s children are still young, but he is hopeful they will join him in learning the family business, and that their influence will continue to advance the art form in the coming years. Visit Tito Medina’s Lima shop to purchase his work.

Left: The hands of Tito Medina at work on a gourd. Above: Tito Medina.


One of Perú’s most outstanding artists, sculptor and potter CARLOS RUNCIE TANAKA blends Japanese traditions with Perúvian heritage to forge a contemporary body of work.




orn in Lima in 1958, Carlos Runcie Tanaka chose to dedicate his life to the art of pottery making rather than pursue his studies in philosophy: he wanted his hands to describe to his multi-ethnic and Perúvian view of the world. They have clearly done so. Carlos’s work has been included in many international exhibitions, including the Venice Bienniale, as well as those in Havana and Sao Paolo. After starting his own studio in Lima in 1978, Carlos studied in Japan with Tsukimura Masahiko in the 1980s, an apprenticeship crucial to his connection to his ancestors, his family’s birthplace, Japanese cuisine and more. The un-nameable nuances and connections he discovered can still be seen in his ceramic sculptures. Carlos is known for his ceramic crabs. He explains: “In winter, the waves are huge and cover the beach almost entirely, and small crabs retreat into tidal pools. Then summer comes and some of them cannot reach the sea. They die and are dried by the sun. My beloved grandfather died in the ocean after a

family lunch, so for me, crabs somehow represent a special link between my Japanese heritage and his memory.” Carlos is very interested in rituals. One of his most cherished rites involves folding origami crabs to place inside his ceramic crab boxes. The step-by-step folding of papers reminds him of the rhythm and repetition of human life. Another ritual, one familiar to most potters, encompasses the firing of his work. “The fire is the final (and unpredictable) ingredient. It takes away my ego and makes me understand that I am not the only creator. I do not have everything under control. The pieces have a voice of their own, a story or many stories to tell. Fire seals the bond between the potter and the clay – and somehow I have become my work and my work becomes me,” he explains with the gravity of the philosopher he has indeed become through his more than 40-year study of clay. For more information please see




Left and center: Details of ceramic vessels by Carlos Runcie Tanaka. Above right: Carlos Runcie Tanaka.



are a handmade window into faith and everyday life







Retablo figurines in process. Right: Detail of a retablo, and artist Mabillon Jimenez

etablos are one of the most recognized art forms in the Spanish Colonial world. Created for easy transport, each piece is a self-contained treasure. Most retablos are shallow boxes with doors that, when open, create a triptych altarpiece traditionally used by families and clergy when traveling. The figures inside are often elaborately constructed images of saints and the Virgin Mother, replete with the symbolic accoutrements of the saint being depicted—and sometimes even the circumstances of their martyrdom. These objects of devotion were designed to allow even the illiterate to recognize the holy personage being depicted. Saint Francis—patron saint of animals and founder of the Franciscan order—is typically shown dressed as a monk surrounded by animals of all types. Saint Sebastian can be found tied to a tree and pierced by arrows depicting his martyrdom at the hands of Diocletian’s army. Some of the most intricate symbols are reserved for Mary and her overarching importance in the Catholic church. Roses, lilies, a celestial blue mantle and the crescent moon can all be found in retablos made in her honor.

Contemporary retablos just as often show miniature scenes of daily life, with boys chasing dogs, market women selling their wares and local Romeos pursuing village Juliettes. There is a breezy élan in the best of these celebrations of everyday life – and their appeal lies largely in their sweetness and humor. One of the most sought-after retableros is Mabilon Jimenez Quispe, the youngest son of the famed Florentino Jimenez, from whom he learned his craft. Using traditional methods and materials – ground stone, yucca paste, peach juice, humor and a gift for portraiture and caricature – Mabilon’s saints have an ethereal quality and simplicity which convey the serenity faith and deep community roots can bring to our lives. Having fled his native Ayacucho during the reign of The Shining Path, he now lives and works with his family in Lima. Mabilon has created a unique place for his work by incorporating aspects of contemporary Andean heritage with the traditions of Colonial-era retablo makers. His pieces are true works of art and are sought by collectors across the globe. Visit Mabilon Jimemez’s atelier in Lima’s San Juan de Lurigancho district, at Jr. Tiahuanaco 1170, Urbanizacion Zarate. His work is sold at Las Pallas, Calle Cajamarca 212.

Vintage ceramics on display in Mari Solari’s home.




INTREPID TR ADITIONALIST A ceramic pipe player by Mamerto Sanchez

showcases Perúvian folk art masters at her Lima boutique, LAS PALLAS



ituated on a picturesque block in an antique house, Mari Solari presides over rooms of mind-bendingly gorgeous folk figurines, woven belts, papier mache masks, ceramic vessels of all kinds, antique textiles, scarves and handbags. Plus a few items that defy description. To polite clients, Mari might show a few rooms of her home. A good question will earn you an explanation worth listening to. We advise you to bring both your wallet and your notepad. Welsh-born Solari arrived in Lima 40 years ago with her Perúvian husband, and was introduced to the country’s deep folk art tradition by her mother-in-law – which sparked Mari’s career as a collector. TEXT

Collecting turned into commerce when Mari founded Las Pallas 25 years ago, which for Mari is just a means to “maintain quality and maintain tradition.” She is vehement about the importance of traditional folk art – which she sees as perhaps far more important even than artistic expression. “Folk art is an language – used for more than a 1,000 years – to express culture and history. The language has thinned out in recent years, and it is a problem we need to address. We will all be poorer without it,” she contends. Out of respect for her mission to protect and promote folk art, we asked Mari to nominate three folk art masters for inclusion in HAND/EYE’s 08/Perú issue. She chose Mamerto Sanchez, the Tarrillo family and Timoteo Ccarita – profiled on the following pages. Visit Las Pallas at Calle Cajamarca 212, Barranco district, Lima. For more information, see


Ceramist MAMERTO SANCHEZ works in local clay and natural pigments to achieve an old-fashioned beauty.


here must be a special line in Mamerto Sanchez’s palm indicating the importance of clay in his life. His many awards acknowledge his mastery of clay, from his birthplace all the way to the far corners of the United States and Europe. His devotion to the medium is no coincidence: he was born into a family of talented potters, and grew up in a town steeped in artisan culture. Mamerto learned his art from his grandfather and father, both admired potters and artists. As a young boy, Mamerto assisted his elders with the preparation of clay. Over time he evolved into potting and sculpting, and developed an expressive style – with a special interest in the stories of the Quinoa people and their functional and ceremonial ceramics. TEXT

Mamerto’s birthplace, Quinua, in the Ayacucho province of Perú, is known for its artesanias. Ceramics are at the center of life in this lovely sierra town of red-tile roofs topped with ceramic churches or bulls. These ornaments protect against evil spirits. “Mamerto is by far one of the best traditional ceramic folk artists in Perú,” says Mari Solari, who sells his wares at Las Pallas, her Lima boutique. Working with local clay and native, natural pigments his churches and figurines are both organic and traditional. “The colors are soft to the eye and true to their origin,” Mari comments. To purchase a piece of Mamerto Sanchez’s art, visit Las Pallas at Calle Cajamarca 212, Barranco, Lima.





AFFAIR Many hands make light work. In the TARRILLO FAMILY, the work is gorgeous.

Master weaver TIMOTEO CCARITA has served as mayor of Pitumarca, but his TEXTILES are his passion


imoteo Ccarita is the former mayor of Pitumarca, a picturesque village south of Cusco, one of the most important Andean textile centers. During his tenure as mayor, Timoteo was a passionate advocate of natural dyes and Perú’s finest fibers. His influence paved the way for the relevance of Pitumarca textiles in the 21st century. It is perhaps not surprising that Timeoteo is also a master weaver, recognized for perfecting the ancient discontinuous warp technique, t’iquilla in Quechua. This laborious process has deep roots in Cusco, and particularly in Pitumarca. A discontinuous warp means that there is no set of warp threads running the entire length of the fabric. Instead, sets of temporary yarns known as scaffolding are tied in place to create


special colored patterns. The origins and reasons for this complex structure are unknown, but the end result is a lightweight textile rich in color. Timoteo also creates tapestry masterpieces on a four stake pedal loom, using local hand-spun sheep and alpaca. All dyes are made from local plants from nearby pastures. Timoteo says, “Our ancestors used natural dyes. We are recovering their dyes and colors. Sometime we did not remember the plants for natural dyes but now we are remembering and recovering them.” Timoteo is a respected legend whose skills are recognized by collectors and artisan peers alike. To purchase one of Timoteo’s textiles, visit Las Pallas at Calle Cajamarca 212 in Lima’s Barranco district. Or ask for him around Pitumarca.



any Perúvians remember Cajamarca as the place where the Inca Empire came to an end. By featuring the Tarrillo family, we recognize Cajamarca as a place where Perú’s artisan traditions are alive— and far from coming to an end. The Tarrillo family are known as some of the finest weavers in this northern highland region of Perú. This extended family of weavers works with cotton and sheep’s wool in an impressive variety of Cajamarcan back-strap weaving techniques and patterns. They work with the finest materials, creating exquisite and detailed textiles including tapestries, mats, runners, and saddle bags. They take pride in the process of weaving from start to finish.


At the age of 82, Don German Tarrillo, founder of the family’s textile legacy continues to maintain his family’s weaving traditions. His passion for textiles was ignited when he married a talented weaver by the name of Maria Rosa Irigoyen. Don German does not weave, but enjoys harvesting the plants used for dyes and collecting the sheep’s wool for weaving. Maria Rosa is a master weaver, hand spins her own yarn and has mastered the double-face technique unique to Cajamarca. Their entire family is involved in one way or another, including daughters Sarita and Dalila, who weave blankets on back strap looms. Don German is intent on teaching his grandson these ancient techniques. Don German continues to sells his wares in Chota and sometimes delivers pieces to Lima. Visit Las Pallas to purchase one of the Tarrillo family’s textiles. Calle Cajamarca 212, Lima.


MUSUK NOLTE , Principal Photographer of HAND/EYE’s 08/Perú issue, chose CUSCO as the place he wanted to show our readers.

He explains why.


usco was the historic capital of the Incan empire. They arrived in the 13th century. But there is evidence that the site of the town was occupied by an older people, the Killke, as early as 900 CE. There is history in the air here, and in the ground. You can feel it. Which is perhaps surprising when you know that around two million tourists a year come here to see nearby Machu Picchu. The tourist trade has brought lots of opportunity to the town and the region. And lots of changes, too. But on the outskirts of Cusco are a number of communities that still maintain their techniques and traditions, particularly when it comes to textiles. What they make and the way they make it is generations old. The depth of history makes their cloth noticeably rich. What I like most about these towns is the sensation that time has stopped. Many weavers and dyers maintain their tradition of dressing, and stick to older definitions of beauty. Yes, they use cell phones and sell to urban and international collectors. They may know a word or two of English. But they progress into the 21st century without losing their cultural identity. As a photographer, one of the things I appreciate the most about these textile artists is the incredible range of colors they achieve with natural dyes. In the amazing light of the Andean highlands, their handspun and naturally dyed fibers come alive, letting us see the amazing detail and depth of the work. There is something unique here. Something in the old skills and careful engagement with modern choices. Something in the light. A unique personality that is essentially Perúvian. It’s something I try to show with my photographs. But I think you need to visit Perú yourself to see it firsthand.



Contact Musuk Nolte at

TIME & COLOR All photos taken on Nolte’s December 2011 trip to Cusco for HAND/EYE



award-wining tapestries are many things: artisanal product, contemporary textile art, historical document, Perúvian artifact. It takes CONSIDERABLE TALENT to weave all of this together into Perúvian works of art for global collectors.







aximo Laura was recently designated as one of Perú’s Living Treasures, an honor worn easily by this self-taught artist whose textiles have received numerous national and international awards during a 35-year career. This important award is given, following UNESCO guidelines, to an artist whose role is to preserve and elevate the culture of their homeland. Through his reverential references to ancient traditions as well as his modern manipulations of them, Maximo’s work represents a masterful continuity in Perú’s textile traditions. He is also a respected teacher of young people. He started weaving when he was nine years old in his father’s atelier in Ayacucho. Under his father he was an apprentice and assistant until he turned 20. His father, a traveler, a violinist and above all a weaver, was revered in Ayacucho. His textiles were recongnizable, simple and completely hand made. Maximo also learned from Gregorio Sulca, another master weaver fom Ayacucho. He also admired the work of his brothers Vidal, Gregorio and Andres, and his brother-in-law, Pelagio Capcha whose works from the Chavín, Paracas and Nazca cultures were memorable. All of these men were secretive weavers who worked behind closed doors. His independent weaving practice began in the 1980s, when he sold his work to pay for his studies in literature in Lima. Eventually, literature faded into the background and the nuances, meanings and ideas inherent in the textiles became his focus. Some of Maximo’s favorite themes are drawn from Andean iconography, but elements of pre-Columbian cultures from across the Americas abound. Jaguars, spirals, square crosses, jungles, mountains, sacred offerings, and dream visions fight for space in his densely populated work. “Perú’s ancestral textiles are an infinite source of inspiration. This history merged with the innovations, experiments and ideas of international contemporary textile art, allows for continuation and orginality while always maintaining a very personal and Perúvian worldview, a unique spiritual language,” says Maximo about his own work. Maximo sees his role as that of an intepreter, always decoding and making tangible what otherwise would be a feeling or a thought. He has had many influences throught his career, such as Chavin culture, which is expressive and totemic; Paracas, which is colorful and strong; Nazca and Wari for their geometric shapes; and Chancay for its sobriety and lineal spirit.

Fibers and colors make up the elements of his universe. For Maximo, color has the power to highlight or undermine symbols, contexts and messages. Color allows for an encounter with light and shadow to build with intensity, drama and spirituality. “For me a colorless design is like a body without soul. It is through color that all the elements gain energy, life, intention and real value. Color has a symbolic value in my work, it refers to places, seasons, feelings and philosophy. I am very passionate about all shades of red, orange, yellow,” he says. His creative process is continuous, intense and vital – so much so that he has to be calm and at peace so that his visions can come to life. He is constantly taking notes that mix drawings, words, and feelings with the potential to be the starting point of a new tapestry. “Tapestry-making requires a progressive, slow and irreversible system of work that allows for the miniscule, patient and intimate meeting of technical and visual solutions, leading to the opening of an infinite repertoire of possibility subjected to the communicative intentionality of the work. I try to surrender to the limitations of the materials and to the requirements of the act of creation, under the light of an obsessive taste that will, in the end, reflect a cultural and textile connotation that is typically Perúvian,” affirms Laura in his artist’s statement. His work is a woven symbiosis of ancient Andean textiles, international influences, and something deeply personal. It’s art.

Maximo Laura’s work can be found in major museums and galleries around the world, including the National Museum of Perúvian Culture (Perú), National Museum of the American Indian (USA), and Le Musèe de Bibracte (France). For more information, see

Maximo Laura at work in his atelier. Opposite: A detail, front and back, of a Laura tapestry.





When master weaver SATURNINO ONCEBAY asked his father what became of the first textile he made at eight years old, DON HONORATO responded, “I offered it to the river so your weaving hand will always flow like water.” The magic worked.

Details from the many weavings available at Saturnino Oncebay’s atelier





ccording to family lore, Don Dario Oncebay Pizarro was the first Oncebay weaver, starting in 1870, and a whatever kind of fiber magic he contributed to their bloodline has kept them weaving ever since. Today the family lives in Santa Ana, a neighborhood of Ayacucho known for artisanal workshops attached to homes, with every street dedicated to a particular tradition—piedra de Huamanga (alabaster) on one street, retablos on another, carved gourds on yet another, and so on. The Oncebays live, of course, on a street of weavers. During the Seventies and Eighties, the Oncebays wove traditional animals, grids, bricks, and zig zags, in five colors — black, brown, beige, white and gray. In the Eighties and Nineties, the family created a whole new genre of Ayacucho weaving: testimonial or documentary textiles describing the terrors the region experienced during the time of the Shining Path, a Maoist guerrilla movement that ruled Ayacucho from 1980 to 1992. Those were years of hiding behind closed doors, years where the families that were lucky to remain together had to invent ways to maintain their sanity. Many adopted the Oncebays’ new textile art form, which frequently featured scenes of women with dark braids falling down their backs. These braid-wearing cholitas symbolized the many peasant woman whose children and husbands were killed or kidnapped. They are represented from the back, in recognition of a pain simply too great to face. Often they are seen heading away from their highland homes and toward the capital to escape the violence. Sometimes they are shown weaving, signifying their desire to hold on to old traditions – which became quite difficult in this time of upheaval. Shepherds roaming the hillsides were

in mortal danger, and supplies of wool and alpaca dwindled, as did knowledge and near universal use of natural dyes derived from mountain plants. The use of industrially spun thread and chemical dyes still prevails today in Ayacucho as a result. Compelling testimonial scenes developed at the expense of Ayacucho’s traditional visual vocabulary. Birds, pumas, llamas, condors, landscapes, grids and flowers were exchanged for coats of arms, violent encounters between the police and the Shining Path, churches, buildings and in the case of the Oncebays, narratives of oppression, discrimination, genocide and violence. Now that well over a decade has passed in Ayacucho in relative peace, there is renewed interest in the textile arts that flourished before the conflict. The Oncebay family still weaves a cholita or two, but is more interested in investigating Pre-Inca and Inca textile techniques. They talk with ease of their efforts to make contemporary replicas of textiles from the Wari, Paracas, Nazca, Inca and Chancay cultures – whose beauty does indeed signal that Ayacucho is healing itself in beautiful ways. Saturnino is the oldest of the fourth generation of Oncebay weavers. The entire family weaves: Honorato Oncebay, his father, specializes in weaving and dying, and enjoys producing versions of the intricately geometric Inca calendar. His mother, Silveria Pariona Quispe, does very fine spinning and dyeing. Saturnino likes to design and weave historical replicas he learns about through research in museums, libraries and private collections. Members of the extended family, Alejandrina, Sofia, Manuel Jesús, Vilma Margarita, Alfredo and John Oncebay, dye with natural substances, embroider and weave. They use cotton, alpaca, llama, wool, and vicuña when it is available. They have done extensive research in pre-Inca and Inca vegetable dyes using roots, leaves and fruits such as nogal for black, brown and beige; masocopa for reds; tankar fruits for blues and its branches for yellows; molle is used for greens and chilka for dark green; cochineal is used for purple, violet, fuchsia, pink and red. “We want to reproduce techniques that have disappeared,” says Saturnino of the family’s near-obsessive focus on weaving, “recreating ancient techniques, colors and quality so that people can buy new pieces and not smuggled originals which are part of Perú’s heritage and should be preserved her in Perú for future generations.” For more information, visit the Oncebay atelier in Ayachucho.


is a mother and daughter design team creating splendid next-generation Perúvian textiles with a social conscience






umaqkay means the most beautiful in Quechua. Paracas is where mother and daughter design team Patricia Seminario and Alejandra Benavides found inspiration. And Sumaqkay paracas is a fresh textile concept which interprets Wari, Chime, Nazca and Paracas artifacts. The company’s fabrics are hand-woven by artisans on footpedal Colonial-style looms using wool, organic cotton, alpaca, and feathers ... just like the old days. Except for the fact that the final product is cutting edge. Seminario and Benavides focus mostly on home décor, but they also make handbags, combining hand-woven fabrics with leather fittings. Their fashion accessories often feature natural fiber wovens backed with a synthetic layer, and sometimes coated with a shiny finish, which gives their handbags modernized structure and gloss. Sumaqkay paracas started as a socially responsible initiative in Paracas, the site of a large migration of highland dwellers looking for education and better jobs. Seminario and Benavides began working with men and women from Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Cusco, who were arriving every day to in search of a way to turn their remarkable weaving skills into household income. Unable to choose one fantastic weaving style over another, mother and daughter decided to mix all of the techniques together, including pom pons, fabrics made on blackstrap looms, crochet, woolen flowers, brocades and tapestries. Their first product, a handbag, was a hit. Their search for the next great product revealed that one of their artisan partners had a Colonial-style foot pedal loom that made it possible for them to start working efficiently on the wider-width formats needed in home furnishings. With potential for success in both home and fashion arenas, Seminario and Benavides consolidated Sumaqkayparacas as a company with the lofty goal of taking Perúvian heritage beyond craft and into the highest levels of art and commerce. Not surprisingly, home and fashion goods couldn’t quite contain all of the founders’ ambition. Large-scale fine

art pieces were added to Sumakqay paracas’s catalog, and it this third category that is the most exciting. Seminario and Benavides channel the richness of many centuries of Perúvian textile innovation into pieces whose colors and textures delight as much as any painting or photograph. Their 2012 collection was inspired by James Reid’s book, Perúvian Textile Art, The First Modern Art. “The book gave us as many answers as it did questions. What is the significance and relevance of Pre- Columbian textile art? How can we contribute to make it current?” explains Seminario. One especially exciting result of Sumaqkay paracas’s explorations is a piece inspired by the pom pons from weavers of the highlands. Seminario and Benavides took traditional cholita pom pons and colored them in spectacular reds, pinks, greens, yellows and blues. The work now hangs throughout the spectacular Tambo del Inka Hotel in the Sacred Valley. They are now working on pieces for Palacio Nazarenas, a new hotel opening soon in Cusco. Says Janna Rappaport, the hotel’s design director, “We are focusing on the time period when the Spanish first arrived in Perú. There was a lot that was tragic about that time, but it was also an artistic crucible. In the combining of Spanish and Incan talents a new art was born.” In order to continue this fascinating work, Sumaqkayparacas needs to do more than make beautiful things: they have to stay competitive in Perú and abroad. Which means Seminario and Benavides continue to evolve, and the work underway in their studio is taking on a collage approach, and an ever-expanding list of materials. Their careful manipulations of old iconography continue, with motifs expanding to giant size, at the same time as overall pattern simplifies. Colors continue to explode with a modern sort of brightness, without leaving behind Perú’s strong visual culture. But their commitment to employing skilled artisans and helping the Paracas community remains constant. For more information on Sumaqayparacas, see www.

Above and left: Details of two textile artworks by Sumaqkay Paracas



RENAISSANCE After years of Shining Path violence, AYACUCHO is back with its embroidered story, rich Andean colors and talented hands.


hen people think of Perúvian textiles, they usually conjure up traditional embroidery from Ayacucho with bright colors and distinctive flower motifs. Made of sheep and camelid wools, Ayacucho’s textiles are known for very intricate techniques that come from the Wari, a Pre-Inca culture that is just starting to be discovered. The Wari culture flourished 1,200 years ago near present day Ayacucho. A peasant and artisanal society, the Wari made colorful and vivid textiles, depicting bold images that parallel the iconography found on their ceramic vessels. Wari textile decorations include repeated and alternating geometric designs in association with supernatural human figures. Wari artists wove designs directly into the fabric with weft threads packed densely over the warp in a technique known as kelin, which has similarities with Middle Eastern tapestry-weave carpets. In recent years Ayacucho has specialized in weavings featuring abstract motifs, and is a major textile producing region today. Embroidery is another very important technique in Ayacucho. Also of Wari origin, Ayacucho embroidery represents the region’s flora and fauna. The very popular flower motifs are a rather recent development borrowed from the center of the shawls called llicllac, often used to carry children, crops or wood by the women in the highlands. Today, instead of occupying the linear center seam on a manta, flower motifs have expanded to cover the entire surface of the textile, layering many types of embroidery stitches to achieve a three-dimensional quality. This lush floral work, delivered in a bright Andean palette, has put Ayacucho on the map with international buyers. Mercedes and Faustino Flores are the entrepreneurs behind Hilos y Colores, a company that has mastered the art of embroidery with great innovation. They are known for their floral belts in unique color combinations and very refined details. The husband and wife team works with many rural


The embroidered belts of Hilo y Colores


communities in the region, including Vinchos, Paccha, Socos and Huanta, focusing their efforts on design and quality control. Mercedes and Faustino started their enterprise with a single loom and from there they started experimenting with different techniques and showing their work in different competitions around Perú. Today they export to international clients and have a shop in the main plaza in Ayacucho. “The motto of Hilos y Colores is go backwards to move forward. This is why we work mostly with hand spun fibers; Swiss dyes that are ecofriendly; and vegetable dyes using cochinilla, tara, chilca, molle and nogal,” affirms Mercedes. What makes them successful is their very efficient way of working, encouraging leaders to form among the different groups and specializing each group according to its abilities, interests and talents. Hilos y Colores has three in-house designers, three finishers, and a packaging specialist. Faustino is the commercial manager and Mercedes focuses on production and design. Mercedes places a big emphasis on their local leaders and she sees this as a big part of their success. “There is a lot of competition in Ayacucho. Many people make similar products and there is resistance to change and innovation. We have taken risks both in our enterprise and in our designs, and the leaders help us express our vision in a beautiful final product,” says Mercedes confidently. She is proven true by the gorgeous belts and bags and home goods in their store in Ayacucho and in their booth at the Perú Gift Show every April in Lima. Ayacucho is known all over the world for its talented artisans. The city itself is built around artisan neighborhoods clustered on the hills around the main plaza. For a decade between the eighties and nineties, Ayacucho was a ghost town in Perú. What had been a tourist area known for its diverse crafts and spectacular landscapes became a military hub in the era of the Shinning Path, a Maoist guerrilla movement with headquarters there. Today, things are different and Ayacucho is back to being the capital of crafts in Perú with committed entrepreneurs who are giving value to Wari traditions and adding new relevance to very old techniques. For more information on Hilos y Colores, see




KUSKAYA means WORKING TOGETHER in Quechua, and that’s what

happens at this artisanal, socially conscious, and gorgeously creative Kuskaya



n Quechua, kuskaya means working together, a name that perfectly fits Alessandra Gerbolini’s socially conscious textile company. “I wanted a business where design, handicraft, city life, rural life, creation and tradition could all live together in harmony,” she explains. Whatever the components of Gerbolini’s harmony, Kuskaya’s products, made in collaboration with master artisans from Cajarmarca, located in the Northern highlands of Perú, are distinguished buy their high quality. Kuskaya uses some of the finest materials from this region, including mercerized pima cotton and piedra de Huamanga (alabaster). They use waist-looms, creating textiles that are so finely woven, it is hard to believe that the pieces are handmade. Founder Alessandra Gerbolini keeps Kuskaya focused not only on design and artisanal detail, but also on the promotion of social development. The company firmly believes in the preservation and conservation of traditional handicraft techniques by working with talented artisans living in rural communities. Alessandra continuously learns about craft from these artisans and sees a mutual level of respect as central to a healthy relationship. She adds, “Patience is also something I have learned, as well as the importance of listening to others and learning to communicate clearly.” Alessandra decided to quit her day job in 2002 to begin combining her twin passions of design and handicrafts. The beauty of the landscape (and the textiles) of Cajamarca captivated Alessandra as she began working with several artisan groups from this region. She says, “I worked with different techniques and materials (ceramics, wool tapestries, rugs) until I finally found the fine cotton waist-loom weaving of San Miguel, Cajamarca and immediately fell in love with it.” She adds, “I wanted the products to stand on their own. I was not too keen on using my name as a brand, and I wanted to give the same importance to the weavers as to the designer, so I decided to create a brand with its own personality.” Future plans include extending carefully into fashion. “I would love to extend my accessory line towards special apparel, like a very special skirt or sweater. On the home line I am also working several samples for a five star hotel — and that is a market I would love to explore more.”

Kuskaya’s collection is available in select stores in Lima as well as their flagship store at 556, Av. Conquistadores in Lima. For more information, please visit Visit the 2012 Perú Gift show to see other offerings of fine Perúvian fabrics.




One of Kuskaya’s lavishly colored textiles JULIA MANDEVILLE — IMAGES COURTESY OF ERNEST DOTY


a native of Ancash, a remote village in the highlands of Perú, handles the nuances of Pre-Inca, Inca and colonial stitches like a storyteller.





n 2003, Mariela Camiloaga began her life as a storyteller using the fibers and folkways of the Andean highlands. A native of Ancash, a small town 4,000 meters high up in the mountains, Mariela traveled through villages and towns with her mother who was a teacher. Mariela’s textile narrative started early: when she was eight years old, she made her own bed cover, pillows and blankets. Many years later, she embarked on those long journeys herself, climbing to the highest peaks in the Perúvian highlands. Along with backpacks and books, she carried her mother’s legacy as a teacher. On those journeys, Mariela became familiar with very old techniques, many of them on the verge of disappearing … brocade, intarsia, patchwork, crochet, knotting, lace, embroidery, and different types of weaving. “I remember most of all the gestures and rhythms of the women walking in the fields amidst wild flowers and animals. I remember them carrying baskets and gathering flowers that tumbled and tangled with seeds, straw and branches in a perfect-imperfect beauty,” she remembers. It was a story that had to be told. In order to tell it, Mariela created her company, Incagreat Knits, where she works with her sister Zuri, brother Adan, and niece Shantal. The family partners with a long list of women who feel proud to earn a dignified living in a way that remains connected to their heritage. Ana, Luz, Lidia, Eugenia, Violeta, Ayde, Marlene, Ines, Herolda and Veronica contribute to Incagreat Knits from their homes in the highlands of Ancash, Huancavelica, Huancayo, Cusco, Cajamarca and Puno. Incagreat uses vegetable dyes and the finest handspun Perúvian cotton and camelid fibers to give body and texture to their collections. Today Incagreat Knits exports handmade Perúvian textiles to Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia for clients such as Comme des Garcons, Perúvian Connection and many other international brands. At Incagreat, art, cultural preservation and creativity are very important. For example, the company has included up to 180 colors of yarn in one garment, worked into complex combinations of weaving techniques. Their color palette includes all the shades of the Perúvian Andes, from snowcapped mountains to lush grassy valleys, Inca ruins, fertile chacras or home gardens, wildflowers, the purples and umbers of the more than 3000 varieties of potatoes, and all the brightness of the traditional attire of highland women.


The intricate knitting and crochet of Incagreat

Incagreat’s trademark is the fusion of colors and techniques into collages of contrasting texture and dimension. One of Mariela’s favorite collections is Shumac Huayta, or beautiful flower in Quechua. Her inspiration for this collection was an Andean woman gathering wild flowers in her lliclla (scarf) to weave them with ichu (grass) into representations of her dreams. In this collection, each lace-like piece is individually assembled into the kind of full skirt worn by Andean women. “The fullness makes them look like the mountains where they live,” smiles Mariela. Another collection was inspired by the ñusta, a tunic specific to Inca princesses, rendered in earthy hues. Regal Mochica earrings are represented in the scarf ’s articulated edges. Quipu, a kind of Andean ledger made of knotted strings, are also a constant inspiration for fringes. Lately Mariela has incorporated environmental concerns into her color combinations and textures. In fact, she has developed a technique similar to watercolor painting where she can depict the deep scars that result from deforestation and global warming. “I want to raise awareness in a beautiful way through my textiles,” she comments. By layering contemporary issues and sensibilities onto the ancient traditions of highland textiles, Incagreat Knits spins a connection between Perú’s past and present. If tradition lives, it continues – which may be the most important lesson in Mariela’s story. For more information about Incagreat, see





is a Perúvian fashion pioneer and a Marca País ambassador. She issues an invitation!

Horn earrings designed by Elvira Sanchez



Detail of a mesh bag by Meche Correa. Right: Meche Correa

ELVIRA SANCHEZ’s horn compositions unite elements of Perú’s Colonial-era

arts and crafts with a fashionable sensibility


profoundly love everything Perúvian. Perú inspires and surprises me every day with the vast legacy it has to offer the world. My design work is motivated by a desire to do everything possible so that it can continue. At the moment, I am designing with artisans from all over Perú: San Miguel in Cajamarca, Hanta in Ayacucho, Puno, Cusco, the Amazon. Every trip I take is a big moment for me: even returning to familiar places, there is so much reverence that it is like the first time. But it’s not always easy. I have spent years of my life and many, many samples, thinking that my artisan partners


understood me—only to have to start over again. But sometimes these challenges resulted in happy mistakes and beautiful surprises. You never know! Challenges notwithstanding, I would recommend working in Perú to any designer who wants to come. With one requirement: design inspired by traditions has to be undertaken with great responsibility. Nobody can love what they do not know, so the starting point for true Perúvian design is to visit, to experience our history and our culture firsthand. We live in a globalized world, so innovation is necessary. But here in Perú we are looking for innovation with respect. For more about Meche Correa, see or visit her Lima boutique at Agenda Conquistadores # 325.



hen Elvira Sanchez sits at her drawing table to design jewelry, she looks back to Perú’s Spanish Colonial history, when carved horn adorned the weapons of the Conquistadors and the hair ornaments of their ladies. But as a creator of the 21st century, she brings modern ideas to the table, including environmenal concerns: if not for her jewelry, her raw material would otherwise be thrown away by local butchers. Elvira works with master artisans to create two collection of horn jewlery a year which explore different techniques of open work and horn carving and play with the natural


shades of the material. She treats horn as a precious stone and sometimes assembles pieces in different colors to achieve a mosaic-like effect. At times, silver is added for luster and texture. “Horn is a challenging and surprising material. The most difficult part of the process happens in the early stages when the material has to be prepared with heat and pressure before it is carved. However, once prepared, horn is surprising, revealing and very noble. I want to continue exploring this fascinating material in other spheres such as home decor,” affirms Elvira. You can find Elvira Sanchez jewelry at Dedalo, one of Lima’s finest shops devoted to contemporary arts and crafts, located at Paseo Saenz Peña 295, Barranco. Marcella Echavarria is HAND/ EYE’s Deputy Editor.


TIRE MARKS Humble materials and high design meet in the collaboration between KAREEN NISHIMURA and RECURSEO



Detail of a Chechil necklace

SOL ACE & SEEDS Jewelry designer CECILIA


began her work as a form of comfort Recurseo’s Tractor wastebasket


hen Cecilia Soenens was a young girl, she loved to walk, slowly and barefoot, along the Paracas beach where her parents lived. She studied her surroundings, collected small seashells, stones, bits of wood and other interesting objects. When her sister was deathly ill, Cecilia found solace in these personal treasures, and she began to weave them together with cord and twine and remnants of her own clothes. She added exuberantly colored seeds from Amazonian plants as well as unusual beads. A jewelry line was born. And it became a family business. So it all began in Paracas, an astonishingly beautiful bay on the Perúvian coast, known for its great biodiversity, archeological wealth, and historic location near the famous Nazca lines.


The bay has it own geoglyph in the shape of a candelabrum, drawn on a slope that can be seen from the sea. Fishermen say that the figure tells the location of a fabulous pirate treasure, but archeologists think that it is simply a continuation of the famous Nazca lines. Paracas is also the name of one of the most extraordinary pre-Incan cultures of Perú, and is known worldwide for its exquisite textiles, especially richly colored cloaks with intricate designs and symbols yet to be deciphered. Cecilia’s jewelry carries something of the beauty and depth of Paracas with elegance, simplicity, and great quality. To see Cecilia Soenens’ jewelry collection, Chechil, visit Dedalo in Lima’s Barranco district. Author Eduardo Lores is co-owner of Dedalo.



areen Nishimura’s Tractor wastebasket, whose stitches recall a trail of tire marks, is part of a refined collection made of old rubber tires. Abundant throughout Perú, tires are recycled into everything from purses to piggy banks, and more. Kareen says, “The recycling, reprocessing and reusing of tires is a neo-folk industry that uses imagination and home made technology to make useful things. But often, the products lack the added value of design.” Nishimura’s mission is to develop beautiful new products using reclaimed materials. Tractor was inspired by the ojotas (sandals) made from tires and worn throughout Perúvian farming communities in the Andes. Originally made of leather, they are now made of


reclaimed rubber — thanks to farmers’ quick adoption of an economically efficient product. The wastebasket is made according to Kareen’s design by the Recurseo collective, with whom she regularly collaborates. But her “day job” has her designing and producing new products, in association with Ricardo Geldres, under the brand RIKA – always ecologically sound, developed from unconventional reused and recycled materials, and using basic artisanal technology. Together, Kareen and Ricardo (and Recurseo) are pushing industrial design towards a smarter and more sustainable future. For more, see Author Eduardo Lores is coowner of Lima-based artisan boutique Dedalo. Visit the 2012 Perú Gift show, where sustainability is a featured theme.



turns Perúvian talents into brilliant product made responsibly



unalab was born in 2010 out of the shared passion of Ursula Alvarez and Mariela Bazan to fuse design and tradition in a co-creative process with Perúvian artisans. While Ursula and Mariela love to design, they are selling more than product: Nunalab is really an innovative package of services for buyers seeking new and sustainable production scenarios. If you want creativity that evolves in synch with social and environmental responsibility, Nunalab is a revolutionary tool for you. Nunalab’s latest products blend a deep interest in the environment with a desire to involve Perú’s artisans in nontraditional ways. The new collection of fashion and home accessories are handmade by more than 70 women using up-cycled cotton jersey collected from t-shirt factories around Lima. Working with small strips of fabric, the women crochet, knit, macramé and stitch modern designs. Nunalab loves to work with recycled materials such as phone wire, cords, shoelaces, and cotton. Ursula adds, “We care about maintaining traditional craft technique while fusing more contemporary design concepts, materials, and styles into it.” Buyers such as Jenny Krauss and Qunuq from the U.S. and Holland, respectively, are not the only ones to recognize Nunalab’s environmental innovation. The Perúvian Ministry of the Environment recently awarded Nunalab with the 2011 Premio a la Ecoefincia Empresarial prize for the best small enterprise offering environmental products in Perú. Ursula says, “We attract foreign buyers not only because we deliver well crafted finished goods, but because we show our clients a new




way to source materials and give them an opportunity to work directly with the artisans. Our clients appreciate the handmade component as well as the use of up-cycled, alternative materials.” Jenny Krauss met Ursula in 2010 at the Perú Gift Show and co-designed their popular new line of jersey scarves. Ursula and Mariela’s knowledge of the Perúvian artisan sphere is vast. Together they share over twenty years of experience with Perúvian artisans. Working with the National Director of Handcraft’s office, they have been instrumental in organizing the National Competition for Artisans & Design, which recognizes innovation in design and production techniques among Perúvian artisans. Through consulting projects, these dynamic women have provided artisans with design and product development support to create innovative products. Nunalab grew directly out of consulting work, as they realized that offering design services was not always enough and that production oversight and customer service was essential to creating new sales. “We wanted to create a business to make our own links to the market, to really get the goods from artisans to customers,” says Ursula. What is next for Nunalab? Appearances at the Perú Gift Show in April 2012 and Paris-based Maison et Object in September 2012. Look for a crowded booth: it is likely to be Nunalab. For more information, see Visit the 2012 Perú Gift show, where sustainability is a featured theme.

Left and above: Two of Nunalab’s up-cycled cotton textiles


GERRY COOKLIN , the visionary thinker behind PaTS , a vital link between indigenous YANESHA communities in Perú’s Palcazu Valley and distant markets, shares the story of how

income generation and forest conservation can go hand in hand.







ats in the Yanesha dialect means earth, which inspired us to call our nonprofit organization Partnerships and Technology for Sustainability, or PaTS. Partnership is important to use because we partner with Yanesha communities to manufacture beautiful wooden crafts from well-managed forests, and we partner with retail stores and distributors to sell the products. The technology we provide allows for Yanesha forest resources to be transformed efficiently into well-designed, high-value products. Through these relationships, PaTS has been able to increase the value of a single tree from $30, which the Yanesha would receive from local loggers, to more than $2000 in artisan income. When the outside world moves into indigenous communities who have lived largely outside the global economy, they need to make money. Usually they know no better way to earn than by selling their trees to loggers for very little, and then slashing and burning their forests for agricultural uses. By promoting the harvest of roughly one tree per acre in each 30-year cutting cycle, our forest-management plans allow for natural regeneration of the ecosystem. The fact that far fewer trees are harvested to produce a much higher income, makes it possible to maintain healthy forests while providing sustainable economic opportunities for Amazon inhabitants. PaTS has been working for more than eleven years in the Palcazu Valley of Perú with indigenous Yanesha communi-

ties ringed by three significant protected areas. Most of these villages have no electricity, and the poverty level is high. The many wood products that we have designed over the years are all based on skilled hand-tool production. This translates into products that reflect the inherent beauty of the natural material and are imbued with the hand-tooled signature of their makers. It also means that the production time for our benches, bowls and other tableware is typically much higher than it is for machine-made products with which we must compete in global markets. Since the artisans we employ must receive a fair income for their work, this places a double burden on PaTS to both design and market products aggressively, and to employ the most efficient tools and techniques in production. PaTS has been able to successfully sell product in diverse markets mostly because the fully hand-tooled work and the design of the products offer a very unique look. Also, as a nonprofit organization launched with funds from its founder and lately supported by Perú Opportunity Fund and Blue Moon Foundation, PaTS maintains relatively low profit margins, which helps prices stay competitive. A key ingredient in our success is our relationship with GreenWood. A U.S.-based nonprofit that has been training artisan woodworkers in Honduras since the early 1990s, GreenWood shares PaTS’s vision and objectives. Teams of expert GreenWood woodworkers have introduced traditional hand tools and techniques that have greatly enhanced the safety, efficiency and speed of Yanesha artisan production. In a training session last May, GreenWood instructors built simple forges— fired by homemade charcoal—and trained Yanesha artisans to reshape and re-temper their own hand adzes to achieve a far better edge and a more refined product than they had been able to accomplish before. All of these efforts combine to make our products unique and increasingly competitive in the handmade marketplace. Gerry Cooklin founded PATS in 2001, as a result of the Giving Back Program that his furniture company, South Cone Trading Co., launched in 1998. As a very early adopter of Sustainable Development practices, South Cone became one of the first furniture companies to receive its Forestry Stewardship Council Chain of Custody Certification in 2001. See and www. for more. Visit the 2012 Perú Gift show, where sustainability is a featured theme.

Left: Carving details make PaTS wooden wares come alive. Right: A stack of PaTS wooden plates.


Discover: 7,9Ø .0-; :/6> ;


he Perú Gift Show features more than 100 artisan groups ranging from established exporters with over twenty years of experience in international markets to rural artisan cooperatives focused on cultural preservation. A wide variety of products from across the country are showcased at the Perú Gift Show, including carved and painted wood, accent furniture, reverse painted glass, ceramics, jewelry, natural fiber products, gourds, home and fashion textiles, including alpaca, cotton and wool. Founded in 1998, Perú Gift Show is held in conjunction with PerúMODA, featuring 250+ Perúvian apparel, jewelry and textile companies, and participants are welcome to visit both shows. Last year, more than 12,000 visitors attended, including retailers, wholesalers and designers from the United States, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Sweden. Over $4.8 million in business was generated. A defining feature of the show is special exhibit Perú Home, the collaborative effort of designers Alejandro Rincon and Rocio del Barco. Taking inspiration from Perú’s rainforest and jungle ecosystems, they are working this year with 10 leading exporters to develop new products mixing contemporary design with Perúvian artisan culture. The new products will be on display in curated home settings. Sustainability is a major message for Perú Home this year. The Perú Gift Show invites a select group of US buyers to attend the Perú Gift Show with an offer of complimentary travel and accommodations. Please contact Karen Gibbs at karen@byhandconsulting. com if your company has import experience and is interested in working with Perúvian artisan products.





Decorative and functional ceramics Painted goods from the Amazon


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hvca_apuwamanrazu@hotmail. com


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Carved gourds




Accessories and tableware in sustainable woods

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Alpaca and fur textiles and accessories


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Discover: :/67705. 1


Like most world capitals, Lima offers an amazing array of boutiques representing everything from TRADITIONAL FOLK art to CUTTING EDGE DESIGN.










Paseo Saenz Peña 295 Barranco, Lima Tel +51-1-477-0562

212 Calle Cajamarca Barranco, Lima Tel +51-1-477-4629

Calle Centenario 195 Barranco, Lima Tel +51-1-247-0919

The brainchild of Maria Elena Fernandez, Dédalo is located in a gorgeous home in the Barranco neighborhood. Wander from room to room to discover some of Perú’s finest contemporary artists and craftsmen, some staying close to Perú’s traditions and other exploring an independent style. One of the rooms is dedicated to special exhibits. The garden patio in the back is the perfect place to re-charge with a coffee or a pisco.

Mari Solari offers folk art collectors a fascinating selection of products ranging from ornaments to rugs to jewelry and collectible textiles. Her selection is constantly changing – the result of her travels around Perú as well as artisans travelling to see her. Perhaps the best part of the store is that it is located in her home, and you can peak into rooms displaying her personal collections.

Established fair trade export company, Allpa, offers one of the very few selections of contemporary Chulucanas pottery in Lima in a new modern live/work building in Barranco – just blocks from Las Pallas and Dedalo.

1. Chechil jewelry available at Dedalo 2. Ceramics by Carlos Runcie Tanaka available at Dedalo 3. Shipibo vessel at Las Pallas 4. A Timoteo Ccarita fabric at Las Pallas 5. & 6. Details of handbags by Meche Correa at Dedalo 7. Ceramics by Carlos Runcie Tanaka available at Dedalo. 8. Chulcanas pot in process. Visit Casa Allpa for more.




Av. El Bosque 260 San Isidro, Lima Tel +51-1-440-3099

(also known as Mercado Indio) Av. Petit Thouars Miraflores, Lima

Calle Bolognesi 494 Miraflores, Lima Tel +51-1-446-3775

Located on a quiet street in the San Isidro district of Perú, Indigo offers a dozen rooms filled with unique handcrafted products ranging from traditional to contemporary. Their collection of handknit alpaca accessories are especially irresistible, along with their selection of decorative and tabletop ceramics. Indigo also has a store in Cuzco and a satellite store in the Hotel Casa Andina in Miraflores.

The largest artisan market in Perú, the Feria Artesanal, was originally confined to the Mercado de los Indios, a maze of stalls which has grown topsy turvy over the past decade and now encompasses most of the block. Today, the Petit Thouars area is home to a multitude of formal and informal shops. From the moment you turn onto the street, sellers compete for your attention. Everything can be found here from religious iconography, to retablos, to desiccated bats and butterflies mounted under glass. Prices vary dramatically so be sure to investigate before starting negotiations.

Looking for alpaca home textiles? There is no better selection in Lima than the Wayra store in Miraflores. Also on offer: a wide range of children’s clothing, table top and fashion accessories. Wayra is an export company specializing in alpaca and cotton knit and woven products. They work with women artisans in the Huancavalica region of Perú and have major partnerships with Perúvian fiber and textile manufacturers.



And because Lima is brimming with


is one of contemporary Perú’s culinary masters. He is also an international restauranteur with establishments in Perú and abroad, author of several cookbooks, and the host of his own cooking show in Perú. HAND/EYE asked Gaston to recommend the TOP FIVE LIMA RESTAURANTS

representing the diversity of Perúvian cuisine.



we have added a few more of our own favorites



Av Reducto 1278 Miraflores, Lima Tel +51-1-242-9009



Av La Mar, 391 Miraflores, Lima Tel +51-1-441-1026




San Martin, 339 Miraflores, Lima Tel +51-1-446-2512 Cocina Nikei, a unique blend of Japanese and Perúvian cuisine


Calle Camino Real 101 San Isidro, Lima Tel +51-1-440-5200 Exotic Amazonian cuisine



Camana 900 Central Lima Tel +51-1-425-0421 Traditional Creole food

Santa Cruz 858 (near Ovalo Gutierrez ) Miraflores, Lima Tel +51-1-505-5090


La Mar 1337 Miraflores, Lima Tel +51-1-222-5731 A lively spot for ceviche and seafood




Chinese-Perúvian cuisine by Chef Gaston Acurio

Traditional Perúvian cebiche


Calle Santa Isabel 376 Miraflores, Lima Tel +51-1-242-8515 “Nouveau Perúvian” cuisine by Chef Virgillo Martinez

Traditional Perúvian cuisine





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Perú’s largest artisan market in Perú is on Avenue Petit Thouars in the Miraflores area. Originally the market was confined to the Mercado de los Indios, a maze of stalls which has grown topsy turvy over the past decade and which now encompasses most of the block. Now, however, the Petit Thouars area is home to a multitude of buying opportunities, with shops and street vendors anxiously competing to sell religious icons, retablos, desiccated bats and butterflies under glass, and everything in between. Prices vary dramatically so be sure to comparison-shop before starting negotiations.

Ollantaytambo is the furthermost point of most Sacred Valley tours and is home to a beautiful collection of stone ruins which look down onto this community and create a majestic setting for local artisans to sell their wares. Nestled into a stone courtyard, this market is a favorite for knitting and weaving. Local wool is used to create most of the goods here. Make sure to see the channeled waterways running throughout the village, and stop in for a coffee at Inca-bucks - though we hear a certain international coffee shop has recently requested the name be changed.

Potter and sculptor Carlos Runcie Tanaka says, “The Indian Market in Miraflores is open every day of the week with a great variety of products for all tastes and budgets. One can always find unexpected surprises.”

Below, clockwise from top left: Knitted flower from Ayacucho; Pisac market; dyestuffs for sale; Ayacucho market vendor; Corn in Pisac.

Ayacucho fabrics


Open Air markets are some of the best places to see the vast range of handcrafts available in Perú – and, in some cases, to meet artisans. You will find a market in most of Perú’s main tourist destinations, and you will recognize them both by their VIBRANT COLOR and by the hum of constant negotiating. Some of the creative people profiled in this issue of HAND/EYE made recommendations on where to go and what to look for.

AGUAS CALIENTES For non-hikers, Aguas Calientes is the gateway to Machu Picchu. As you make your way from the train station to the buses which carry you to the Sanctuary, you pass through the labyrinthine market showcasing a pan-Perúvian selection of goods. This market is especially noted for the Macchu Pichu specific items you can find in most every stall. Popular items include Andean crosses made from local stone and sepia tone postcards from Hiram Bingham’s first expeditions. Aguas Calientes is also a great place to have lunch when you have finished exploring the ruins and are waiting for your return train. There are many nice options, but look for the Happy Indian – El Indio Feliz – just off the main drag near the elementary school. It offers a great selection of Franco-Perúvian cuisine.


CHINCHERO When it comes to idyllic settings, the market in the white-washed colonial town of Chinchero cannot be beat. Sitting high above the green fields this stunningly preserved city is known for its backstrap looming and natural dyes. Accordingly, you will see women in the region patiently sitting at their weaving with one end tied to a wall and the other end of the loom secured to a belt around their waist. By leaning back, the needed tension is provided. Groups such as Balcon de las Incas, offer demonstrations of this process that are well worth the time. Make sure to look for pieces created from local wool – mostly sheep and alpaca. The most popular items are table runners in the traditional colors woven and embroidered with time-honored designs. Good weavings with hand-spun fibers and natural dyes are not cheap, so come prepared to bargain, but don’t be surprised by the prices.

CUSCO Most of the opportunities for buying in Cusco are in the numerous stores found on the Circuito Touristico, But you can find some of the best weaving of the region at Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cucso on Avenida El Sol in Cusco. They also have a small museum which shows the process and history of the textiles. Weavers are almost always working in the shop as well.





Pisac is at the beginning of most organized tours of the Sacred Valley, and has developed into a market town. You can spend hours wandering the streets in and out of tented stalls and tiny boutiques. The area is known for knitting, weaving and rug-making – but be sure to take a moment to enjoy a fresh empanada straight from the wood fired ovens.

If alpaca knits are what you seek, head to the market at Puno. Situated next to what is undoubtedly the world’s highest lighthouse, this market is currently under renovation after a fire destroyed a large portion of the tin and wood structure last year. But the vendors carry on! Be sure to try sweaters and other knit garments on, as sizes are not standard.

Sumaqkayparacas co-founder Alejandra Benavides finds delicious indigenous foods like ají and corn from the Sacred Valley in different colors and sizes at the Pisac market. “I always visit Jovita who makes one of a kind authentic toritos de Pucará. Sunday is the best day to visit this market,” she adds.

“Santo Domingo de Choquehuanca Puno is an amazing market. It takes place on Thursdays from 6 am to 1 p.m. I always find lots of ceramics from the communities around Puno, including Santiago de Pupuja, Checca Pupuja, and Pucará,” comments ceramic artist Grimanesa Neuhaus.

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