martes, 20 de febrero de 2018

8 Best Gifts and Souvenirs to Buy in Peru

In Lima there are several shops and handicraft markets where you can find all kinds of souvenirs, from the traditional Andean chullo, to coasters with the famous figures of the Nazca Lines.

If you don't want to get too far off the tourist route of Lima there are some options in Miraflores and downtown Lima, respectively, that can be a good option to make a stop and look good with your family, partner or friends.

It is important to remember in this post that in all the markets of Peru there is bargaining and that prices are not usually fixed. If the gift exceeds S/ 30, you can probably ask for discounts of up to S/ 5.

The best known and most complete is undoubtedly the Mercado Inca, in Av. Petit Thouars block 52, where you can buy souvenirs of all kinds and accept credit cards; in the Historic Center there are some options, especially next to the Plaza de Armas and the most complete of Jirón Camaná and Conde Superunda.

In the 9th block of Avenida La Marina, in the district of Pueblo Libre, you will find the Feria Avenida La Marina, where there is a great variety of handmade products and textiles, as well as silver jewelry, ceramics and wood carvings.

There are also some options with higher prices in Miraflores, Larco Avenue or the Peruvian jewelry store Ilaria, which has boutiques inside the Marriott Hotel (in front of Larcomar), in Saga Falabella or even at the airport. The airport may be the last option if you forgot or didn't have time to buy your gift, but the prices will be soaring.

There are Peruvian gifts that will undoubtedly be a pleasant souvenir for their color and shape. These are some of them.

Andean chullo

The chullo is undoubtedly one of the signs of Peru's identity. This is a hat with earmuffs made of wool, alpaca or other synthetic materials whose main mission is to protect the inhabitants of the Andean highlands from the intense cold of the mountains.

The origin of the chullo is in the Spanish colonial cap, to which the mestizaje included the earmuffs, tassels and Andean designs. The chullos that usually sell in large quantities in tourist markets in Peru are usually synthetic materials and should not exceed S/5- S/10 (US$ 1.5-3).

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru

Toritos of Pucará (Pucara Bulls)

These bulls made of ceramics are another example of the fusion between the colonial and the Andean. According to tradition, when the Spaniards arrived in Peru, they integrated some animals in the popular Andean festivals that celebrated the payment to the land or pacha mama. One of those animals was the bull, which was painted and adorned and then spiced in the nose.

The maddened bull ran back and forth licking his muzzle, his eyes peeled and his tail curled. This image -which can still be seen on the roof of many houses in Andean areas- is made up of two bulls (representing Andean duality) with a cross in the middle. It is said that these toritos protect families, generate fertility and give happiness to their owners.

Bulls usually have the color of clay, although it is also common to see them in different colors, representing that Andean duality we talked about. These toritos should not exceed S/30 (US$ 9).

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru

Ukuku Mask

Although at first glance this wool mask looks creepy, belongs to some demigods also called Pablitos or Pawluchas who parade in the Cusqueña party of Qoyllur Rit' i and whose mission is to guide the pilgrims and keep them at bay of possible abuses in the camps, often produced by alcohol.

These demigods are also in charge of fighting against Los Condenados ("the damned"), evil souls who grieve for the glaciers. The mask is usually white in color and embroidered with moustaches, eyebrows, and mouth and ear openings; most also have a Christian cross embroidered on their foreheads. These masks should not exceed S/20 (US$ 6) in any market.

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru

Peruvian Retablos

These beautiful wooden altarpieces originate from Ayacucho and can be composed of a scene from Andean daily life or even be divided into three parts that tell a story. In Lima they are usually sold wholesale and the creativity and detail of Ayacucho artisans is not so appreciated. One piece of information to buy some of these authentic altarpieces is the shop Las Pallas, Calle Cajamarca 212, district of Barranco. One of the small altarpieces is at S/55 (US$ 17).

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru


The Ekeko (Equeco) is a god of abundance, fruitfulness and joy and is a characteristic cultural representation of the Andean highlands, receiving worship in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Chile today. On his back he carries objects related to wealth and fortune such as a house, a mattress, a car, a party serpentine, among others.

It is normal to light a cigarette and put it in your mouth as an offering to attract luck. There are also those who serve him a glass of pisco. There are different sizes, the largest one is around S/20 (US$ 6).

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru

Maras salt

This pink salt is particularly appreciated for its anti-inflammatory, healing and low concentration of sodium chloride, which helps to regulate our blood pressure. This salt is extracted from the salt mines of Maras, Cusco, and is particularly beneficial for hypertensive people with heart problems.

In Cusco, in the Mercado de San Pedro, we can find sachets of this salt by a sun. In Lima you will find salt shakers prepared with a small shredder for about S/ 20 (US$ 6).

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru

Tinplate craftsmanship

The tinplate craftsmanship is another jewel of the city of Ayacucho, known as "the Capital of Popular Art and Handicrafts of Peru". In the reconverted Handicraft Market "Shosaku Nagase", which was formerly the old prison of Huamanga, master tinsmith Teófilo Araujo sells candelabra, crosses, mirrors, butterflies, among other objects in this material.

The colors that predominate in these creations are the classic Andean: red, blue and yellow intense. One of these candlesticks can cost S/ 70 (US$ 21,5) in your Ayacucho workshop, although it can cost twice as much in several galleries in Lima.

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru

Sarhua Boards

These boards -made of molle or eucalyptus wood- show the life, customs and way of life of the people of Sarhua, located in the province of Víctor Fajardo, Ayacucho. One of its major representatives is the craftsman Evanan Poma, who recently held an exhibition of these boards in Lima.

Best Peruvian Gifts, Peruvian Souvenirs, handicraft markets Peru

These are some of the most original souvenirs that you will find in Peru, although in the mentioned markets there are also small details such as magnets, key rings or bracelets of huayruro or other seeds that do not surpass the S/3 (less than one dollar). You no longer have an excuse to look bad!

Esteban García, Peru Travels Blog
February 2018

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