Christianity came to Peru at the point of a sword! Spanish Conquistadores gave the captured Inca King two choices: Death by burning at the stake (which under Inca belief would have condemned his soul to an eternity of wandering between heaven and hell), or to convert to Christianity. When the King became a Christian, so did all of his subjects (he was later killed anyway!) Today, 500 years later, the Peruvian Indian is still trying to incorporate Christian beliefs into their life-style. For this reason, many of the figures are made with strong Indian facial features. Some figures (to include the Christ Child) may be found wearing typical Peruvian caps. Also, if you look carefully at the nativity sets, you may find the three Wise Men riding llamas instead of camels! On many of the Last Suppers you also may find a strange dish on the table - it is a custom in Peru that the highest honor you can pay your guest is to serve him a dish of roasted guinea pig (a small rodent!). To truly appreciate Peruvian religious handicrafts, one must understand the contex in which they are created. See "Background" below for additional information.
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