Peruvian Nativity: Art and Cultural Identity around Christmas

On the 6th January in many countries around the world, people celebrate what in Spanish is called “la Bajada de los Reyes” which represents the arrival of the three Magi in Bethlehem to give their gifts to Jesus.  La Bajada de los Reyes also signifies the time when the nativity is disassembled and wrapped up for the following year.

Peruvian nativities are truly beautiful and singular as they not only represent the religious devotion but also the cultural diversity of each region of the country. During the last decade these handicrafts have become so popular that they have been exported worldwide. As celebrations vary from region to region, also the way to represent the nativity varies from region to region as they are elaborated by native artisans who demonstrate their art with different materials like ceramic, marble, cane and textile.

 

This nativity represents the Peruvian culture through the typical costumes of the three regions: coast, mountain, jungle.

This nativity represents the Peruvian culture through the typical costumes of the three regions: coast, mountain, jungle.

 

NATIVITIES BY REGIONS

COAST: 

 

Nativity in ceramic made by artisans in Catacaos, Piura Region – Northern Peru.

 

Nativity Northern Style made with cane

 

chinchano Nativity Chinchano style from Ica, Southern Peru

 

 

MOUNTAIN:

Nativity from the Andes

 

Very original nativity representing the Sacred Family as farmers from Arequipa standing at the foot of the Misti volcano.

 

Peruvian Retablo made in Huamanga, Ayacucho. This kind of nativity is made in different sizes and sometimes the biggest can become really sophisticated scenes, where each floor represents a scene from everyday life in the Andes.

Clay nativity from Ayacucho

Nativity in Huamanga stone, Huamanga, Ayacucho region. The region of Ayacucho is rich in this white volcanic stone remarkably resembling marble. The stone can have light tones of grey or beige. The region is famous for the production of religious objects like nativities, Christ, Virgin Mary but also many objects for tourists. The nativity is usually sculpted in figures representing eggs or chullo, the typical Peruvian hat as pictured above.

Andean Nativity from Cusco, hand-knitted by artisans on the Andes.

FOREST:

 Wooden nativity with the theme of the forest, representing typical animals from the Amazon like the mountain bear and the sajino.

 

The soundtrack to this magical time of year is called villancicos.

 Below Siwar Situy (Shiny Sun): a Christmas song from Cusco sung in Quechua, interpreted by the Choir and Orchestra of Children and Teenagers from the Asociación Cultural Qantu Cusco.

 

 

Special thanks to Alejandra Arévalo from http://misturasyculturas.blogspot.co.uk for the images and for contributing to this post.



Veronica Grimaldi Hinojosa - Traveller. Italian. Ceviche addict. She understood at a very young age she would catch the travel bug so she started to learn English, French and Latin aged 11 and later studied German and Spanish. She has been living in London for the last 11 years. Not even her unforgettable sabbatical gap in French Polynesia could stop her from falling in love with Peru and Peruvian food, even though Neapolitan pizza remains always part of her DNA. Among her other passions there is also advertising, branding, fine dining and luxury and she blogs about these at the Circle of Luxury. She is currently learning Portuguese.

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