Category: Peru

Miscellany. 10.22.12.


Cuzco’s Plaza Mayor at sunset, with a view of the Compañía de Jesus church. (Photo by C-M.)

Photo Diary: Saint James and the Inca.

After a couple of weeks back in the U.S., I’m still trying to shift my brain from the Andes back to California. But one of the many pieces of art that keeps occupying space at the top of my brain is the above sculpture of Saint James, at the Casa Garcilaso in Cuzco. The saint, one of the Twelve Apostles, is frequently depicted slaying a Moor. (Though he was beheaded in Jerusalem in AD 44, legend has it that Saint James appeared to fight on the side of the Christians in a Christians-versus-Moors face-off in Spain exactly 800 years later — hence the image.)

But in the sculpture above, Saint James (Santiago, in Spanish) is shown slaying an Inca. The piece above is a replica of a sculpture from a church in the Apurimac region, which lies west of Cuzco. Unfortunately, the wall text provided little in the way of specifics — such as a date when it may have been made or if this was a common motif of the era. My semi-educated guess is that it was made at some point in the 18th century or thereabouts. Whatever the specifics, this surely has to be one of the most moving pieces of art I saw during my trip…

The Casa Garcilaso-Museo Histórico Regional is located on the Plaza Regocijo. It is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 8am to 5pm. Entrance for foreigners is with the boleto turístico.

Photo Diary: Visible storage at the Museo Larco in Lima.


An owl man figure. The museum’s director, Andrés Álvarez Calderón, who led us on an incredible tour of the collection, says that all ancient cultures conveyed the supernatural with hybrid human-bird figures or hybrid human-feline figures — and sometimes both traits at once.


The visible storage rooms contain thousands of pre-Columbian objects. We spent several hours in here just gandering at all of the awesomeness.


A figure of the dead, a symbol of the underworld.

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Going Gangnam in Lima.

A follow-up to the post about Korean haircuts in Cuzco: Today, we went to Polvos Azules, a sprawling warehouse market in downtown Lima where you can buy everything from brass knuckles to porcelain elephants to fake Hollister T-shirts. We were there to pick up some bootleg cumbias and a Peru shirt that glows in blacklight. The digital section of the market (my favorite part) is a Blade Runner-esque array of large-screen TVs all blaring dubbed movies, ultraviolent video games and lots and lots of incredibly loud music. The most popular video? The K-pop ditty Gangnam Style, above.

Seriously, I would pay for cable TV if I knew that one of the channels was nothing but K-pop videos.

Photo Diary: The Profundis Room at the Santa Catalina convent in Arequipa.


In the novice courtyard at the Santa Catalina monastery in Arequipa, Peru. (Photos by C-M.)

One of Arequipa, Peru’s most stunning sights is the Santa Catalina monastery — a sprawling, blocks-long walled compound that serves as a religious city within a city, a labyrinthine array of cells and chapels and gathering spaces for an order of well-to-do-creole nuns, founded in the 16th century. One of its more remarkable sights has to be the Profundis Room, or former mortuary, where the portraits of deceased nuns line the walls. Literally, the portraits are of nuns that have recently died. A most interesting memento mori…

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