Culture of Peru
The Culture of Peru was shaped by the relationship between Hispanic and Amerindian cultures. The ethnic diversity of Peru allowed diverse traditions and customs to coexist. Peru has passed through various intellectual stages - from colonial Hispanic culture to European Romanticism after independence. The early 20th century brought “indigenismo”, expressed in a new awareness of Indian culture. Since World War II, Peruvian writers, artists, and intellectuals such as César Vallejo and José María Arguedas have participated in worldwide intellectual and artistic movements.
Main article: Peruvian arts
Gold Moche Headdress - Feline. 400 A.D. Larco Museum Collection.
During pre-Columbian times, Peru was one of the major centers of artistic expression in The Americas, where Pre-Inca cultures, such as Chavín, Moche, Paracas, Huari (Wari), Nazca, Chimu, and Tiahuanaco developed high-quality pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculpture.
Drawing upon earlier cultures, the Incas continued to maintain these crafts but made even more impressive achievements in architecture.
The mountain town of Machu Picchu and the buildings at Cuzco are excellent examples of Inca architectural design.
During the colonial period, Spanish baroque fused with the rich Inca tradition to produce mestizo or creole art. The Cuzco school of largely anonymous Indian artists followed the Spanish baroque tradition with influence from the Italian, Flemish, and French schools. Painter Francisco Fierro made a distinctive contribution to this school with his portrayals of typical events, manners, and customs of mid-19th-century Peru. Francisco Lazo, forerunner of the indigenous school of painters, also achieved fame for his portraits.
In the decade after 1932, the “indigenous school” of painting headed by Jose Sabogal dominated the cultural scene in Peru. A subsequent reaction among Peruvian artists led to the beginning of modern Peruvian painting. Sabogal’s resignation as director of the National School of Arts in 1943 coincided with the return of several Peruvian painters from Europe who revitalized international styles of painting in Peru. During the 1960s, Fernando de Szyszlo, an internationally recognized Peruvian artist, became the main advocate for abstract painting and pushed Peruvian art toward modernism. Peru remains an art-producing center with painters such as Gerardo Chavez, Alberto Quintanilla, and Jose Carlos Ramos, along with sculptor Victor Delfin, gaining international stature. Young artists continue to develop now that Peru’s economy allows more promotion of the arts.
The zampoña is a Peruvian wind instrument, mostly used by Andean musiciansPre-Hispanic Peruvian Andean cultures were especially bound to musical artistic expressions. In fact, almost all agricultural communal works were accompanied by music and singings (generically called in Quechua language: taki).
Main article: Peruvian literature
Peruvian literature has its roots in the oral traditions of pre-Columbian civilizations. Spaniards introduced writing in the 16th century, and colonial literary expression included chronicles and religious literature.
After independence, Costumbrism and Romanticism became the most common literary genres, as exemplified in the works of Ricardo Palma. In the early 20th
century, the Indigenismo movement produced such writers as Ciro Alegría, José María Arguedas, and César Vallejo.
The zampoña is a Peruvian wind instrument, mostly used by Andean musicians
During the second half of the century, Peruvian literature became more widely known because of authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa, a leading member of the
Latin American Boom.
The Cathedral of Cusco.Main article: Architecture of Peru
Peruvian architecture is a conjunction of European styles exposed to the influence of indigenous imagery. Two of the most well-known examples of the Early Colonial period are the Cathedral and the church of Santa Clara of Cuzco.
Huacas del Sol y de la Luna located at 5 kilometers south from Trujillo
After this period, the mestization reached its richer expression in the Baroque. Some examples of this Baroque period are the convent of San Francisco de Lima, the church of the Compañía and the facade of the University of Cuzco and, overall, the churches of San Agustín
and Santa Rosa of Arequipa. The independence war left a creative emptiness that was filled by the Neoclassicism of the
French. The 20th century was characterized by the eclectic architecture, which has been in stark opposition to constructive
The Cathedral of Cusco.
Its most considerable example is San Martin Plaza in Lima.
Main article: Music of Peru
A Peruvian sling made of alpaca hairThe Pre-Hispanic Andean musicians mostly used wind instruments such as the quena, the pinkillo, the erke, the antara or siku (also called zampoña), the pututo or pototo, etc.
They also used diverse membranophone instruments such as the tinya (hand drum),
the wankar, instrument of big dimensions, the pomatinyas - made of puma skin-, and the runatinyas - made of human skin
. The runatinya was also used in battle.
A Peruvian sling made of alpaca hair
With the Spanish conquest, new instruments arrived like harps, guitars, vihuelas, bandurrias, lutes, etc. Because of the arrival of these musical instruments, new hybrid Andean/European instruments appeared. Some of these instruments are still used today: the Andean harp and the charango. The sounding box of the charango is made of the armadillo’s shell.
The cultural crossbreeding did not limit itself to the contact of Indigenous and European cultures. The African slaves’ contribution was demonstrated in rhythms and percussion instruments. This influence is visible in musical forms like the festejo and the zamacueca.
Apart from dances of native origin, there are also dances that are related to the agricultural work, hunting and war. Some choreographies show certain Christian influence. Two of the most representative Andean dances are the kashua and the wayno or huayno. The kashua has a communal character and it is usually danced in groups in the country or open spaces.
Marinera Norteña, the most representative dance in Peru.
The huayno is a “salon ball”. It is danced in couples and in closed spaces. The yaravi and the triste have also an Andean origin. They are usually songs with very emotional lyrics.
Dances of ritual character are the achocallo, the pinkillada, the llamerada (dance that imitates the llama’s walk), the kullawada (the spinners' dance), etc. Between the Hunting dances, it can be mentioned: the llipi-puli, gudi-dada and choq'elas. They are dances from the altiplano related to the vicuña’s hunting.
There are some dances of war like the chiriguano which has an Aymara origin, the chatripuli that satirizes the Spanish Realist soldiers, and the kenakenas a dance about the Chilean soldiers who occupied Peru during the War of the Pacific in 1879. There are also Carnival Dances. A Carnival is a western holiday that, in the Peruvian Andes, is celebrated simultaneously with the crops time. Many rural communities celebrate the youths’ initiation during these holidays with ancestral rites and dances.
The most internationally known dance in Peru is the Marinera Norteña. This dance represents a man’s courting of a young woman. There are local variants of this dance in Lima and the other regions of the country.
Popular celebrations are the product of every town’s traditions and legends. These celebrations gather music, dances, meals and typical drinks. In addition to the religious celebrations like Christmas, Corpus Christi or Holy Week, there are others that express the syncretism of the indigenous beliefs with the Christians’. An example of this kind of celebration is the Alasitas (an Aymara word that, according to some, means “buy me”) which combines a crafts and miniatures fair with dances, meals and a mass.
Main article: Peruvian cuisine
Peru has a varied cuisine with ingredients like maize, tomato, potatoes, uchu or Ají (Capsicum pubescens), oca, ulluco, avocado, fruits like chirimoya, lúcuma and pineapple, and animals like taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis), llama and guinea pig (called cuy).
Ceviche, the most typical dish in Peru
The combination of American, European and Moorish culinary traditions, resulted in new meals and ways of preparing them. The successive arrivals of Africans and Chinese also influenced in the development of the Creole cuisine.
Some typical Peruvian dishes are ceviche (fish and shellfish marinated in citrus juice), the chupe de camarones (a soup made of shrimp (Cryphiops
caementarius)), anticuchos (cow's heart roasted en brochette), the olluco con charqui (a casserole dish made of ulluco and charqui), the Andean pachamanca (meats, tubers and broad beans cooked in a stone oven), the lomo saltado (meat fried lightly with tomato and onion, served with french fries and rice) that has a Chinese influence, and the picante de cuy (a casserole dish made of fried guinea pig with some spices). Peruvian food can be accompanied by typical drinks like the chicha de jora (a chicha made of tender corn dried by the sun). There are also chichas made of purple corn or peanut. They are very refreshing and do not have any alcoholic content.