Peru is a multicultural country. Our people have different backgrounds and stories, and any tourists visiting Peru will notice it as soon as they land in our territory. Our diverse ingredients and dishes, languages, music, and crafts are clear proofs of Peru’s rich culture. Learning about Peruvian artisanry, ranked amongst the most varied on Earth, is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get to know more about its people and their customs.
Peruvian craftwork not only takes an essential role in forging Peru’s identity but also ensures the well-being of thousands of families who are dedicated to this activity. In some cases, artisanry is the main source of income for entire communities. This is the case of Sarhua, a small rural town in the Ayacucho region in the southern Andes of Peru, which is the place of birth of the famous “Tablas de Sarhua,” declared as National Cultural Heritage by the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
Not many tourists visit Sarhua, though. The main reason might be that the closest airport is located in Ayacucho city, which is 3 hours from there by car. Although Sarhua is a beautiful small town, steeped in culture and interesting history, visiting Marcial Berrocal’s workshop in Ayacucho city is also an excellent option if you want to learn more about the “Tablas de Sarhua.” Marcial is considered one of the top craftsmen doing “Tablas de Sarhua” in Peru. He learned this art when he was just 16 years old, and he hasn’t stopped since then.
Marcial explains the tourists the origin of this art. These “tablas” are considered popular art in his hometown. In Sarhua, when a person builds a house to live with his or her family, someone special (called “compadre espiritual”) gives a painted board to the family. The board should be used as a beam in the house roof. The paintings on the boards describe everyday scenes from the community or the family (if the family works in farming, the board will represent their dairy farming activities).
Nowadays, you can find different utilitarian objects painted with the Sarhua boards style in Marcial’s workshop. It was him who started painting mirror frames, wooden chairs, and other objects to respond to the market likes. Marcial sells all these souvenirs in his workshop, where he also teaches tourists how to paint with the “Tablas de Sarhua” style. Every tourist visiting him will agree that this is one of the most authentic experiences related to Peruvian folk art in the country!
If you don’t have enough time to go all the way to Ayacucho, but you still want to learn more about this traditional art, you can visit Primitivo Evanán’s workshop in Lima city. Primitivo was one of the first ones to rescue this tradition and enhance it’s artistic and cultural value. He and his daughter Valeriana receive tourists in their workshop located in Chorrillos district. Then, they take them to visit other artists in nearby workshops, who happily share their knowledge in the “Tablas de Sarhua” art. We highly recommend this experience to anyone interested in Peruvian folk art visiting Lima.
If you want to learn more about our tours in Ayacucho or Lima, check our sample itineraries or contact us, we’ll be happy to help you plan your trip to Peru.