Peru is an exciting country in every aspect. From its gastronomy and cuisine, varied and full of flavors and colors, to its division in the jungle, highlands, and coast as well as traditional clothing, folk art expressions, and belief systems which offer cultural diversity. In this article, I will focus on Peruvian culture and customs which make Peru a country full of charms and nuances.
In each year, about 3000 popular festivals are held in Peru. These festivals are created by the coming together of different customs, experiences and creeds. Most of them remain from pre-Colombian time and they resulted from a fusion of pre-Hispanic and Catholicism religious traditions. They include the celebration of freedom, respect of nature, processions, saint feasts, carnivals and rituals among others.
Although Catholicism is the main religion, freedom of religion is a basic right in the Peruvian culture. About 10 percent of the population belongs to protestant faiths while the remaining 90 percent are Catholics. Religious festivals have a strong influence from Spanish practices. However, they are an indication of how various religions and beliefs of Peru’s pre-Hispanic cultures exist together. Paying back the earth is part of major celebration across most religions and is about honoring and acknowledging mother Earth (Pachamama) for her generosity.
A legacy of various native languages that coexist in this territory expresses the great culture of ancient Peru. Spanish is the official language enforced by both the government and education system. It was introduced by Spaniards and was forced upon the indigenous population during the Spanish Crown colonial period. The Spanish spoken in this country is unique and it combines the Castilian tongue of numerous Aymara and Quechua terms. Both Quechua and Aymara languages are also recognized by the Peruvian constitution and they are spoken variedly in different Andean regions.
An extensive network of exporters shows that Peruvian crafts are among the most varied around the globe. They exhibit the talent of Peruvian handicraft artisans in Asian, North American, and European markets each year. The diversity, creativity, multi-functionality and colorfulness of Peruvian handicrafts make them fundamental activity for forming a Peruvian identity as well as for the survival of many families and also towns such as Quinoa, Ayacucho, and Sarhua.
Through the discovery of weaving, silver, pottery, gourds, stone, gold, and wood, pre-Hispanic Peruvian art has been dated back to ancient times where artisans had highly developed technical skills. The ancestral heritage is seen today in the mountain, jungle, and coastal towns in a variety of high-quality handicraft items such as Huamanga stone carvings, wood carvings, woven items, carved gourds, silver filigree, chulucanas pottery, monsefu ponchos, and Ayacuchan altars among others. These crafts are highly valued around the world.
Music and dance have played an important role in the Peruvian society since pre-Hispanic times. Ancient Peruvians used reeds, animal bones, and sea shells to produce sounds. Peruvians of Nazca culture were the most important on the continent. Some of the major musical instruments were trumpets, zamponas, pututos, and terracotta. The music touched themes of war, profanity, and religion.
Today, Peru has a rich and diverse folklore and a wide variety of both music and dancing that include indigenous spirit and genres with Spanish influences as well as modern styles.
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