Peruvian Rustic Pottery

Street Vendor It is thought that the original inhabitants of Peru were American Indians whose ancestors migrated from Asia over fifteen thousand years ago. The physical features of their modern descendants include Asian characteristics such as 'slant' eyes, and straight black hair. They are typically short, less than five feet in height for the males, and stocky. (These physical characteristics are commonly seen in their works.) Today, these Indians live scattered throughout the many small villages found in high valleys and plateaus of the Andes Mountains. The thin air of the high Andes where they live, which has little oxygen, has led to the development of large lungs in deep barrel chests.

Peruvian Village They live in a society where there are not only no jobs to be had, there is no money to pay anyone for their work if there were jobs! One exists by producing their own food and, if lucky enough to have a surplus, they barter for something a neighbor has which they may desire. How, then, does this type of society obtain the goods which modern civilization demands hard currency for? The answer to that question is the production of handicrafts. The men of these villages farm the level areas and raise livestock on the slopes of the mountains. The women, in their spare time, make handicraft items. The sale of these items is their only source of hard currency.

LlamasThey use what natural resources are available to them (the coastal desert sand and the clay pits found in the mountains where they live) to make pottery, which they color using natural white,brown, and red hues. Subject matter is derived from superstition, legends, religion, and the imagination of the artisans. Once, possibly twice a year, they come down from the mountains with their goods packed on the backs of their Llamas. As there are no roads in the Andes (only narrow foot trails which require the services of pack animals) this trip may take over a month to complete! It is quite common throughout Peru to see Indians selling wares along the road side, at the market, or in the fairs.

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