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After the conquest of the Incas by the Spanish, since 1532, art also went through a mixture, and in time, Andean ceramics was combined with that from Spain. Pottery in Cusco became a wonderful mix of both traditions, which can be found here nowadays.

Colonial Pottery in Cusco

  • Types of objects: there are a lot of religious ones, Catholic, like holders for wine, the hosts, holy water, oil, etc. And also a lot of secular ones: decorative plates, glasses, cups, dishes, big vases, tableware, figurines and so on, with both Inca and Spanish designs. You can find out more about Inca mysticism, in our blog entry spiritual tourism in Cusco.
  • Where to find: Cusco’s wonderful ceramics can be found in several places, for example typical handicraft markets we have in Cusco City, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, etc. These last two cities are included in our great 1-Day Sacred Valley tour. But the center of pottery in Cusco region is in Raqchi, an old Inca village located 11.5 miles south of Cusco town. Its ceramics has been granted National Cultural Treasure status in 2018, by our government. On weekends, there is a popular fair at the village’s square, with plenty of traditional items. The Raqchi village is included in our Cusco-Puno Route of the Sun package.
  • Development: Spanish ceramicists had already a mix of national and Arab influences, and they brought them to the newly conquered lands. On the other hand, Andean pottery had been around for thousands of years. The Inca one used clay as the main material and its colors were all within a range of browns and reddishes. The Spaniards had techniques based on glass and other enamelling procedures. The fusion resulted mainly in white, shiny objects with both Andean and Spanish designs, with really wonderful colors. Cusco is the Peruvian center of this colonial pottery, Raqchi village in particular.

Original Inca Ceramics

  • It was almost entirely in reddish and brownish background colors, with designs that were either geometrical, agricultural, religious, typical animals like the condor, llama and other elements belonging to their culture. For example, the Chakana or Inca Cross was a very important symbol for them. 
  • Andean ceramists, already in times of Spanish rule, engaged in a reconstruction of Inca history, using the objects as a means of communication, because they didn’t ever have written language. (Know more about Quechua, their official language). The many scenes depicted accurately describe major events along the empire’s years. These artifacts can be currently admired at the Inka Museum in Cusco City, together with other quite interesting exhibitions.
  • If you want to visit the Inka Museum, we recommend hiring a professional guide with us, because travelers will have many questions while touring the place. Check our article with more best tips after arriving in Cusco.

The spectacular pottery in Cusco City and the region is one more great experience you can have! Besides, objects can be bought so you can bring home a souvenir with plenty of history and beauty!


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