We take pride in empowering the work of artisans from all over the world, but today this blog is about the magic that lays behind a very special form of Peruvian art, made by extremely talented Peruvian artisans. Great demonstrations of their outstanding art are the “Peruvian retablos”.
"Retablos Peruanos", what are they?
They are a sophisticated Andean folk art in the form of portable boxes, which depict religious, historical, or everyday events that are important to the Indigenous people of the highlands of Peru and Bolivia.
The Spanish word retablo comes from the Latin retro-tabulum (“behind the table or altar”), which was later shortened to retabulum. This is a reference to the fact that the first retablos were placed on or behind the altars of Catholic churches in Spain and Latin America. They were three-dimensional statues or images inside a decorated frame.
The Christian warriors, who frequently found themselves far away from their home churches, carried small portable box-altars for worship and protection against their enemies. These earliest retablos usually featured religious themes, especially those involving Santiago (Saint James), the patron saint-warrior in the fight against the Moors.
Retablos came to the New World as small portable altars, Nativity scenes and other religious topics used by the early priests to evangelize the Indigenous.
Nowadays, the “retablos ayacuchanos” are rectangular boxes made by Cedar used to create a better finish on each piece. The boxes are designed with a colorful view of double doors, connected by a leather string between them. The exterior of the boxes is decorated with flowers full of color and the interior designs depict different costumes from Peru, such as harvests, processions, feasts, and tableaux.
Where are our Decorative Plates come from?
Few years ago, two sisters Teresa and Susana, decided to honor the millennial past of their beloved country Peru and launched a line of decorative objects, employing and recovering old techniques used by native artists creating pieces of art with a story, using Peruvian materials and adding contemporary designs of extraordinary beauty.
This is how Kus’art Design International was born.
Around 2011 after creating their gorgeous collection “Carnavaleando” (Enjoying Carnival) alluding to religious Peruvian festivities celebrated all across the Peruvian Andes, these two sisters decided to reach out to the artisans to design a new product and create decorative plates or chargers using traditional techniques, and colorful designs inspired by the retablos.
The doors of the retablos inspire each flower, which is presented in the plates. These flowers are all native from Peru, but particularly one, the “Flor de la Papa” (from the Quinoa plant) that is a spike that grows in the countryside. There are also few different flowers that grow in the highlands of Peru, la Puna. Some of the designs also incorporate high relief flowers using a mix of flour, water, and cast, which is the material they use to sculpt the characters of each “retablo” in different shapes and colors.
I really hope that you all can appreciate and support this millennial art, today sustained and supported by these two amazing sisters.
A few months ago I met Teresa Pinilla, while doing my research about native artisans products in South America, and I undoubtedly felt attracted by her line of art and traditional yet contemporary designs.
Teresa is passionate about her native Peru and all the innate beauty of its surroundings. She’s also been an advocate for women empowering through her work with the UN, which makes me even more compelled to work with her.
I really hope this collaboration takes us to new adventures together and maybe in the near future I will have the honor to personally meet each and every one of the artisans who prepare with months in advance each of the pieces at De La Sol Home.