Traditional Crafts in the Mantaro Valley of Peru
The Mantaro Valley is a hidden gem situated in the Central Andes of Peru. It’s known for the villages that speckle the area, each specializing in a different traditional handicraft exported throughout the country. You can visit and watch the families in action as they work on their craft, which has been passed down through generations. You’re free to purchase quality art directly from the artists at base prices. Also take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and thank the artists in person.
Carved Gourds in Cochas
Gourd carving is an ancient Peruvian craft dating back to over 3000 years ago.
Elaborately carved gourds are sold all over Peru, but Cochas is where they all begin. Here you can find gourds of all shapes and sizes, intricately etched with patterns or stories. Some of the largest gourds sell for hundreds of dollars. Religious stories or stories of Andean tradition are displayed like comic strips around the gourds. Choose a story that speaks to you or get your own story carved!
Textiles in Hualhuas
The Peruvian Andes are known for their llamas and alpacas, which provide some of the softest wool in the world, and you can find the wool-spinning experts in the little town of Hualhuas. After observing a traditional loom demonstration, search through the clothier’s products for ponchos, sweaters, scarves and other original works sold at a bargain. You’ll also find wall hangings made entirely of wool. These tapestries typically portray scenes of traditional Andean life and are perfect mementos of your visit to Peru.
Silverwork and Jewelry in San Jerónimo de Tunán
Ancient Peruvians were experts in utilizing different types of metals, especially gold and silver. These days, the goldsmiths and silversmiths of San Jerónimo de Tunán are recognized nationally for their exceptional skill in intricate jewel work and quality products. Learn more about the process by attending a craft workshop, and then choose from the wide variety of jewelry and trinkets to purchase and take home with you.
Traveling Tips to the Mantaro Valley
The Mantaro Valley is located in the center of Peru. The valley sits at over 10,000 feet so be sure to drink some coca tea to combat potential altitude sickness as soon as you arrive. To reach this area of the Andes, you can take an eight-hour bus-ride from the capital city, Lima. The most reputable bus company is called “Cruz del Sur.” The bus will take you to Huancayo, the largest city in the Central Andes, where you can join one of the valley tours heading out daily from the main plaza to the surrounding villages.
By Samantha Bangayan