Peru 2008: Cusco Day 1, Part 2: Shaman, jewelry, museums, dance

June 30, 2008

When I look at my pictures and see what time they were taken, I’m amazed that we went so quickly from one place to another. I don’t remember feeling rushed, but at the end of the day, I was exhausted! So I guess it shows how determined I was to document the trip that in the evening, I either wrote in my journal, or sent an email home from an Internet cafe (when one was available). June 30, however, was not one of those days. So I continue blogging about this day based on my and my husband’s pictures and whatever I can remember or glean from sources online.

A shaman for tourists

Yes, I know, there are people who perform “traditional” rituals for tourists as their livelihood, and that they may not be truly “authentic” but I am glad they exist so that I, as a tourist in Peru, was able to learn about some of their practices and get a glimpse of what the traditional rituals are like. Without them, I would not have ever found out anything about traditional medicine as performed by shamans, and OAT does go out of its way to expose its tours to a variety of cultural experiences, unlike many mainstream tour companies.

Ceremonial preparation includes coca leaves and other plant material
Ceremonial preparation includes coca leaves and other plant material

When we arrived at the ceremony that OAT had arranged for us, the shaman had laid the ceremonial materials on the rug in front of him. This ceremony was a sort of blessing and “stress reliever.” The shaman gathered a sample of these materials into a bundle, which he held up for us to breathe (“life”) into.

Raw00668Then he said intoned prayers in Quechua as he shook this bundle up and down our bodies, front and back.

Raw00663

Dale is being blessed
Dale is being blessed

595He repeated this procedure with each of the individuals in our group who wanted to participate. I think he prepared a new bundle for each person, although I can’t remember.

From the shaman ceremony, we went to Grupo Ama Arte Mágico Andino Joyería, a jewelry workshop and store, where we were able to see artisans making jewelry pieces using silver, gold, stones and other materials.

599Raw00670There was, of course, a shop attached to this studio where we were invited to buy jewelry made there. I purchased a pendant in the shape of the Inca sacred symbol (with the three tiers representing the sky, earth and underground) made of silver with a purple inlay and a small turquoise stone in the center, and a silver chain to wear it with.

Just outside the studio, my husband took this picture of a young weaver, which is one of my favorite pictures, because of the weaver’s facial features and expression, the loom at which he sits, and the color of his clothing, skeins of yarn and weavings.

Raw00669

Afterward we visited Museo Inka and Museo de Arte Popular, two of the best museums in Cusco, containing a variety of ancient and modern artifacts of Peru, made by local artists. We also visited Museo de Arte Contemporaneo.

Photos of any kind were not allowed in the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, but we were allowed to take photos without flash in the other two museums. Dale took a lot of pictures in both Museo Inka and in the Museo de Arte Popular, capturing the unique, unusual, or personally relevant. I did not take pictures in these museums, relying on Dale for these, because I couldn’t figure out at the time how to turn off the flash on my new digital camera.

Raw00675 Raw00673 Raw00676Also in the museum in which these photos were taken, was a great example of the ekeko, god of abundance (modern version). You can hang representations of many things that you want, including a house (miniature), foam (representing a mattress – a good bed for sleeping), confetti (for good luck), money (either miniature versions of bills or yarn, because if you sell wool, you get money), a bag of tiny balls (food), TV set, car, and a heart (love), among many other things. Tobacco leaves are considered sacred and are used by shamans, and other plants which make you feel good may also be found on the ekeko. It is custom to light a cigarette butt on Tuesdays and Fridays, and put it in the ekeko‘s mouth; you then make wishes and say prayers. The smoke of tobacco, marijuana or coca invokes sacred spirits.

Raw00672

The other museum, probably the Museum of Popular Art, contained many small sculptures of daily scenes, the Nativity (I collect nativity scenes from around the world), masks, etc.

Raw00709Raw00687 Raw00688 Raw00691 Raw00690 Raw00689 Raw00692 Raw00693 Raw00695 Raw00698 Raw00697 Raw00696 Raw00699 Raw00700 Raw00701

Before and after, we explored some buildings and plazas of Cusco:

This statue was left over from  Inti Raymi, festival of the sun god. My son Jayme poses next to it.
This statue was left over from Inti Raymi, festival of the sun god. My son Jayme poses next to it.
Church of Santo Domingo, built on the site of the Koricancha
Church of Santo Domingo, built on the site of the Koricancha

Raw00683 Raw00684

Plaza de Armas in late afternoon
Plaza de Armas in late afternoon

This church, I believe, is "La Compania."
This church, I believe, is “La Compania.”
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas
fountain and children in Plaza de Armas
fountain and children in Plaza de Armas
Shops and restaurants that surround the square
Shops and restaurants that surround the square
The plaza is a good place to relax and hang out after work
The plaza is a good place to relax and hang out after work

Near our hotel, Hotel Don Carlos on Avenida El Sol, is a cultural center, Danza del Centro Qosqo (another way to spell Cusco). We learned that there was going to be a show of traditional dances at 6 pm that evening, so we set out after a short rest at the hotel.

In the end, Dale and I did not stay for the entire performance. We were tired and hungry, so after we looked at some of the mannequins with traditional costumes, we left and walked to the Plaza de Armas to find a place to eat.

610 611 613 614 620 618 615

Mannequins in native costumes, the one on the left is from Ollantaytambo
Mannequins in native costumes, the one on the left is from Ollantaytambo
Mannequin in costume of Chinchero district, province of Urubamba
Mannequin in costume of Chinchero district, province of Urubamba
Musical instruments and decorative two handled jar
Musical instruments and decorative two handled jar

624 625

Costumes from the province of Acomayo
Costumes from the province of Acomayo

We did some window shopping on the way back to Hotel Don Carlos. Exhausted after this long and eventful day, we went to bed soon afterward, which is why I did not write in my journal that day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s