The retablo, when a religious tradition becomes popular art

The retablo, when a religious tradition becomes popular art

Recently, a short documentary published on the Nat Geo webpage put the spotlight on a popular art that has existed only in the Peruvian Andes for hundreds of years. It is the retablo, a singular handicraft that hasn’t disappeared despite the fact that there are only a few master retablo artisans. Arturo Ramos, a young voice for this art, believes that all is not lost. “We need to motivate more people to become involved with this art,” he says hopefully.

Jose Arturo Ramos Vallejo is the irrefutable proof that the Ayacuchan retablo, an Andean art with hundreds of years of presence in Peru, will never be destined for extinction. The reason? Because there are still other young artisans like Jose who make these colorful dioramas a profitable way of life, although on a small scale. This means the popular tradition will never die out.

This 36-year-old Ayacucho man is the descendant of generations of artisans in whose hands rests the future of an Andean people’s identity. “I feel a bit of pride to live in Ayacucho with all its cultural wealth. But I also feel bad that some cultures are being lost,” Jose said worriedly in a short documentary published on the National Geographic web page.

Ayacucho, capital of popular art

It’s been a little over a month since Jose Ramos and other master artisans played a role in a film short about the retablo, an art form rich in history and culture. To learn more about this unique handicraft, we decided to go to Ayacucho and visit the workshop of this talented young man, who is also a NOVICA-featured artisan.

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