Peruvian gourd artisans from Peru
is the artisan in the spotlight this week
High in the Andean mountains of Peru sits the quiet gourd carving community of Cochas Chico, home to Esperanza Palomino and Raquel Rojas. The two women were inspired to start their own business based on the age-old local tradition of gourd carving. In a community where farming difficulties have left many struggling to make ends meet, gourd carving (mates burilados) has provided a source of income for many families. Profits made from the gourds are shared amongst the community and given to the families with the greatest needs. Esperanza says, "All that I hope and dream for the future is to spread my craft to all countries so that our work will be very recognized. My biggest dream is that all will have work and that all the families will have a better future."
In Andean culture, gourd carving is a tradition handed down generation after generation and a tool to record traditions, rituals, myths and celebrations. As Esperanza explains, "This craft we inherited from our ancestors, grandparents, and parents to the present. Each generation improves the art and it continues to grow with future generations." Today, the work of Esperanza Palomino and Raquel Rojas helps to preserve a special part of Andean culture while providing economic opportunity in their community.