Altarpieces and Paintings

AYACUCHO
Artisans Community

The Ayacucho altarpieces have their origin in the colonial times when Spanish priests in the process of evangelization traveled through all the towns of the Peruvian highlands. They carried with them portable boxes or altars. These boxes contained saints and other sacred effigies and were used to care for the homes and the travelers called “Boxes of San Marcos”. These were articulated boxes, with images of different saints of the Catholic religion, that the Spanish priests carried on their trips with the aim of evangelizing all the peoples of the mountains. This box inspired the artisans in the 1940s to create the altarpiece, an artistic and cultural expression from Ayacucho 

Ayacucho altarpieces are rectangular boxes, usually made of cedar. Although there are no standard measurements, the classic altarpieces are 32 cm high and 26 cm wide. Figures are placed in the background. The back is usually covered with thin wood and the doors are attached to the box with leather straps. The boxes are designed with a colorful view, the surface is polychrome and decorated with flowery motifs.

 The altarpieces represent thematic scenes with customs motifs; highlighting the traditional festivals and dances, religious motifs, rural views, agricultural work, they work with great thoroughness, patience and passion, preserving their artisan techniques over time. Are made on the basis of a boiled and ground potato paste mixed with plaster. Likewise, depending on the theme of the altarpiece, structures of people are placed, which are worked with a mixture of flour, plaster, strained powder, boiled water and loquat juice.

The artisans preserve their secrets and techniques of elaboration from generation to generation, making it a family tradition. Thanks to this, the Ayacucho altarpieces maintain the same traditional style of their first copies.The Ayacucho altarpiece has been declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation and represents one of the greatest expressions of Andean cultural and religious syncretism in Perú Its walls are decorated with flowers of different nature and horizontally presents an interior division: the Hanan Pacha or heavenly world and the Kay Pacha or earthly world.

  • Our artisan Don Silvestre takes as inspiration the colors of the pantirway flower, a flower that grows in the highest part of the Andes in a wild way difficult to tame, it is a flower that changes colors in its life process and that is the one that it is found in all the classic white altarpieces and in the city of Ayacucho

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