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Artisan Spotlight: Peru

Today we are furthering our series about the partnerships we hold with our artisan partners around the world. We will be continuing with a look into the partnerships we have in Peru and the life and culture that surrounds our amazing Peruvian artisans.

We find it important to share the stories and ways of life of our artisans and continually educate ourselves and our supporters on the countries that make our story possible. So, let’s learn about Peru!

Fun fact: 3/4 of the world’s population of alpacas live here and the wool makes for warm and soft hypoallergenic garments. And just look at that face!

Rooted in Rich Traditions
Peru has a rich background of culture and is home to an incredibly colorful society. It is known for beautiful textiles, skilled weavers, and even work with silver that creates beautiful works of art. Many of our Peruvian pieces highlight such traits. Between our bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, the cultural influences can’t help but shine through.

Peru also has many destinations that are popular to tourists alike. Destinations such as Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, and the Nazca Lines are as gorgeous as they are significant to the history and life of the country. Each site is surrounded by unimaginable mountainous ranges that are unique to the region. No matter where you look, you’ll see beauty in the natural landscapes that encompass the whole area.

Much of Peru’s history is rooted in the history of the Inca Empire. What is thought to have originated at the city of Cuzco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, the Inca Empire was once larger than the entirety of the Roman Empire and holds significant impact on modern-day Peru. From the practices of textile making to the foods from the Incan period to the archaeological advances, the Empire has shaped Peru and its people.

Rich in Traditions, Richer in Potatoes
A favorite delicacy of Peru, especially our Peruvian artisans, is called Cuy (pronounced “kwee”). What also happens to be the national dish, Cuy is roasted guinea pig served completely whole, including the head and feet. It has been a staple in Peru for over 5000 years and is considered a delicacy. It is often brought out for special occasions but isn’t recommended for the faint of heart.

(feel free to Google it. For the sake of those who keep guinea pigs as pets; however, we will not include a picture).

Another favorite cuisine is any dish including potatoes (so most of you probably already have this in common with them). The potato originated in Peru and today, over 3,000 varieties are grown here. A common saying is “Soy mas Peruano que la papa,” which can be translated to, “I am more Peruvian than the potato.” What a relatable saying, right? This is just another reason the Peruvian culture charms so many.

Peruvians are proud of their heritage and desire to carry on the traditions that have made them who they are today.

Keeping Traditions Alive
Despite its amazing culture, breathtaking natural surroundings, and some of the world’s greatest tourist destinations, Peru has a tremendously high poverty rate. With over one million Peruvians living in extreme poverty, nearly half of indigenous people live in just 5 of 25 regions the country is divided into.

Weather and geography add challenges to daily life, contributing to this issue. Many areas suffer from frequent floods and landslides which can cause economic activity to come to a halt while they rebuild homes and villages. Areas of the Andean Highlands typically see the highest rates of populations living in extreme poverty. Their remote isolation makes it difficult to trade with other villages and for children to have adequate resources for schooling. Only about 30% of children in these regions regularly attend school, causing a ripple effect of poor education through generations. This results in high rates of illiteracy—which are even higher for women—and difficulties finding sustainable jobs.

All of the artisans we partner with in Peru live in indigenous and difficult-to-reach areas. While this does pose logistical challenges, we feel so lucky to play a role in providing opportunities to communities and keep their long-standing traditions going.

Doing Good - a Country of Great
On any given day, the workshops of our artisans are bustling with activity. Family is an important pillar in Peruvian society and you’ll see several generations working alongside each other to create beautiful handmade styles and continue building their tight-knit culture.

You’ll see the colorful relics of their past and present in the works of art we offer made by these artisans. The rich 20,000 year history of the Andean times has produced many techniques for working with fabrics, silver, and other natural materials and have beautifully transformed into modern styles that still embody such traditional values. We are blessed with amazing talent through our partnerships and love seeing the variations of styles that come from a country as beautiful as its people.

To really capture the full essence of Peru, this post would be at least 3x longer, so this is where we’ll leave you for now.

This country has so much to offer and we’re only just getting started. The pride our artisans have in their work is simply unmatched and ensuring these skills can continue is so important to us and their culture. Our partnerships are flourishing and this is just the beginning. While it’s an amazing country to visit, Peru isn’t just a tourist destination—it’s a place where you’ll fall in love with the culture you see and the people you meet. After mere moments surrounded by its beauty, you, too, will feel more Peruvian than a potato.

Here’s to continuing doing good in a country full of great.