Barrio Santa Ana
A short walk above Ayacucho is the Barrio Santa Ana, a quirky neighborhood with cobblestone streets that is filled with an amazing variety of crafts workshops. At the center of it all is the Plazuela Santa Ana, which is graced with the colonial Iglesia Santa Ana de los Indios and lined with artisan studios.
At Galería Latina (Plazuela de Santa Ana 107 and Plazoleta 605-A, tel. 066/31-2516 or 066/31-1215, huari39 [at] hotmail [dot] com), Alejandro and Alexander Gallardo are the third and fourth generation of weavers in their family and produce exquisite tapestries based on Huari designs. The Gallardo family makes its own natural dyes and produces only a few dozen rugs per year, which are mostly sold to galleries in Europe and the United States. Even if you are not buying (a 1.2-by-1.6–meter rug costs US$250–350 here, three times that overseas), the weaving demonstration is fascinating.
Locals also highly recommend the weavings of Chrisantino Montes. His production is small, and exclusively of naturally dyed pure alpaca wool. Prices are similar to those of the Gallardos. Ask around Barrio Santa Ana for directions to his workshop.
Alfonso Sulca Chavez (Plazuela de Santa Ana 83, tel. 066/31-2990) is another highly skilled weaver whose designs are a free interpretation of pre-Inca motifs in brilliant natural dyes. Next door is the Huaranca family, which focuses on animal and nature themes.
Though hard to transport, carvings in the local piedra de huamanga (alabaster) are made by Julio Gálvez (Jerusalén 12, Plazuela de Santa Ana, tel. 066/31-4278, edgard_galvez [at] yahoo [dot] es).
For a good introduction of what crafts are produced in the Ayacucho area, visit the Museo de Arte Popular in the Banco de Crédito on Ayacucho’s Plaza de Armas. Other crafts stores outside the Barrio Santa Ana include Guitarras Flores (Graud 676, Plaza Santa Teresa, 6 a.m.–8 p.m. daily), where the Lago family sells handmade guitars for US$70–115. Brightly painted metal crosses, candelabras, and masks can be bought from Ignacio and Victor Bautista, a father-son team, at their store on Londres 235.
Especially beautiful are the brightly colored retablos, portable altars made of wood and plaster, which were once used by mule drivers to pray for a safe journey. The retablos usually have two opening doors that reveal a religious scene on top and a secular one on the bottom. Good places to buy these and other crafts are Seminario San Cristobal (Plaza Mayor), Galeria Union (Portal Union 25), Galerias Artesanales Pascual (corner of Cusco and Asamblea in Plazoleta San Agustín), and Mercado Artesanal Shosaku Nagase (Plazoleta María Parado de Bellido, Bellido and 9 de Diciembre).
The good place to buy ceramics is the town of Quinua, which is famous for miniature clay chapels known as iglesias de Quinua that are placed on the roofs of homes for good luck. Recommended ceramics workshops in Quinua include the Sánchez and Lima families and Galerias Limaco, all on the main street of Sucre.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition