Peruvian art helps celebrate national holiday

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Peruvian art helps celebrate national holiday

When Peruvians celebrate their independence in a foreign land far away from their home, they make sure to surround themselves with homegrown crafts, dance and music ― and plenty of pisco, the national drink.
At the opening day of “A Glimpse of Peruvian Art: An Exhibit of Pre-Inca Artifacts & Colonial Religious Paintings” at the National Library of Korea’s Exhibition Hall yesterday, Peruvians and about 50 guests viewed arts and crafts from Peru and also drank pisco sour, a sweet-and-sour Peruvian grape brandy cocktail with 42-percent alcohol content that’s made with lemon juice, cinnamon, egg white, syrup and crushed ice.
On display are 13 paintings of Mother Teresa and four archangels; 36 ceramic works belonging to the ancient civilizations of Moche, Chimu, Nazca and Chavin; six landscape photographs and two tapestries. The paintings are part of an Asian tour that has already visited the Philippines.
Both paintings and artifacts are owned by the National Institute of Culture in Peru, but color photographs depicting the arid canyons of central Peru’s Cuzco region were taken by Jorge Bayona Medina, ambassador of Peru to Korea and a native of Cuzco.
“The exhibit intends to portray the richness, variety, colors and style of Peruvian pre-Columbian cultures,” Mr. Medina said at the exhibit opening.
The religious-themed paintings belong to legendary artists such as Diego Quispe Tito, who belonged to the “Cuzco school,” the exclusive artistic style of the Spanish-ruled period that is based on the characteristics of work done in Cuzco during the 17th and 18th centuries. At this time, native painters began creating beautiful, original images of Andean-style popular art, depicting Western Catholic icons such as the Virgin Mary, alone or with the baby Jesus, and angels, among others.
These ancient ceramics had practical uses as well, from storing beverages and food to serving local gods during religious ceremonies. In terms of design and style, they are largely divided into the Moche of the north and the Nazca culture of the south.
Wilbert Haya Enriquez, an embassy consul who organized the exhibition, explained that while ancient Peruvian works are abstract, they exhibit distinctly different characteristics depending on their origin. Works from Moche culture, for example, are usually bold, simple figurines made with dark pigment, while typical artifacts from Nazca in the south display bright, almost humorous-looking motifs in primary colors.
Among gods, the sun god, known as Inti Raymi, is most important. According to Mr. Enriquez, Peruvians in the Nazca region celebrate the Sun God Festival on June 24 every year. Thus much Peruvian art and artifacts depict the image of the sun god in the form of figurines, pottery and bottles that are made with everything from earthenware and bronze to gold.
Mr. Enriquez says there are approximately 1,150 Peruvians currently living in Korea, of which 90 percent are company workers and the rest, professors and priests. For Peruvians in Korea and their friends, there is more than just art to commemorate the important Peruvian occasion.
This Sunday, the Peruvian Embassy in Korea will organize a Peruvian Folk Music and Latin Festival in Seoul. The three-hour program to be held at Seoul Plaza in downtown Seoul will include musical performances by Andean folklore group Inka Empire and La Orquesta Esencia, a Latin and Caribbean musical variety band. Peruvian folk and Korean traditional fusion music will also be on tap along with, of course, a lot of pisco.

by Ines Cho

The exhibition runs until August 12. The National Library of Korea ( is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, except on July 26 and August 9. Use Seocho station, line No. 2, exit 5.
The Peruvian Folk Music and Latin Festival will be held at Seoul Plaza on Sunday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Use City Hall station, line No. 2, exit 1. For more information, call the Peruvian Embassy in Korea; the number is (02) 757-1735~7.
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