had their origin during the colonial period as household shrines.
Though they are still used for spiritual purposes, such as scenes
with saints or the nativity, they also frequently depict secular
themes. For example, this retablo shows scenes of people weaving,
making hats, and harvesting tunas, the fruit of a type of cactus
common in the Andes.
case is made of wood covered in gesso and then painted. The figures
are made of ground stone, mashed potatoes and peach juice. The vibrant
paint consists of aniline dyes in a sugar solution. When the paint
is dry, the figures are given a coat of shellac. Because of their
bright colors and creative depictions of everyday scenes, retablos
have become a popular item for sale in the tourist trade. This particular
one was made by a member of one of Perú’s most famous
retablo family workshops.
retablo is currently on display at the Grinter Gallery, on the ground
floor of Grinter Hall, as part of the exhibition Textile Arts
of the Andes. The show will run through September 18, 2003.