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Shamans Market - Cuzco, Peru
Cusco often spelled Cuzco (or Qosq’o in the Quechua language) is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft).
This Andean city is the uneasy bearer of many grand titles. It is the historic capital of the Inca empire, and is now the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. Few travelers to Peru will skip visiting this premier South American destination, which is also the gateway to Machu Picchu.
Legend tells that in the 12th century, the first inca, Manco Capac, was charged by Inti, the ancestral sun god, to find the navel of the earth (qosq’o in the Quechua language) –the spot where he could plunge a golden rod into the ground until it disappeared. When at last Manco discovered such a spot, he founded the city that was to become the thriving capital of the Americas’ greatest empire.
Gourd carving is one of the oldest art forms in Peru and dates back to 2,500 BC. The gourds can be finished in two ways. One method is to cover the entire surface with a mixture of oil and charcoal and then remove it, leaving an outline of charcoal in the carving. The second method is more complex and involves burning sections of the surface with a glowing ember of eucalyptus wood. By constant blowing in the ember, the artist can regulate the temperature to produce various shadings. Touch up carving is then done to heighten the contrast. The whole process can take from several hours to several days, depending upon intricacy. The gourds don't require special care and will last a lifetime. Clean simply with furniture polish or lemon oil. The villagers of these regions have told their legends, stories and many traditions by carving them for posterity. Some show old traditional designs, other everyday life.
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