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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