February 27th, 2008

Nineteenth report from Peru.

Yesterday we had a very long bus ride, over nine hours to get to Cusco. After a day here I am thrilled that we are leaving tomorrow. Cusco is overrun with tourists and with people trying to force tourists to buy stuff. Many of these salepeople are flogging their art and when you say no they immediately cut the price in half.

Part of me feels sorry for these artists and part of me just wants them to leave me alone. We did have a lovely visit to a precolumbian art gallery this afternoon. I was thrilled with the beauty of the ceramics from 1b.c until 800 a.d. The pieces were fantastic, and the surface detailing was amazing.

Afterwards I watched two weavers working on traditional Peruvian looms which really are just a warp attached to a stick or the weavers feet. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the placing of each weft thread. The first time I was in Peru, I purchased several of these weavings from their makers, but I had forgotten just how much time is spent on each piece. Most of us tourists buy the commercial weavings because the colours are brighter, the designs are bolder and of course they are much much cheaper. However the subtle colours and the complex patterns of the traditional weavings is astonishing. 

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