The Santurantikuy, Cusco Folk Art Fair

Every 24 December, in the Plaza Mayor is made the biggest show of folk art and customs of Peru: Santurantikuy fair, where hundreds of artisans from different parts of Cusco and other regions of the country, beautiful and original work set fruit of his creative spirit throughout the year and which adorn the births of households and institutions. El Niño Manuelito is the central character of the celebration of Christmas in Cusco.

Introduced shortly after the Spanish colony in Peru, Cusco, after the defeat-o-decay of Inca society and already “assimilated” the Catholic religion, began to celebrate each December 24 in the Plaza Mayor each village or community, the festival of Santurantikuy; popular art fair, where the Quechua word says it all: Santu (saints) and Ticuy (sale).

Many of the chronicles of the colony, which were written around the seventeenth century, relate that the Spanish priests, roamed the villages trying to proselytize the native Indians. Just in time for Christmas, I spoke of Emmanuel, the child born in Bethlehem, whose name means “God with us.”

Despite the imposition of the Andean Catholicism did not forget their religious traditions, keeping almost a hidden way. Nature, for them, had his own spiritual representations: Apu, the mountain spirit, the Pachamama, the earth and the Inti, the sun as a divine creator.
In Cusco, a city of great Indian tradition, the image of the Child Manuel, is venerated every year during the Holidays, by a festival called Santurantikuy.This celebration is prepared for up to six months in advance, as the artisans who told us. Eventually, everything is staged in the Plaza de Armas, where artisans from all surrounding cities, arrive with their creations, which give a fair show to thousands of people visiting. Manuelito child image has been created by the artisans with different attitudes. Some have their faces with red sheets and a nasty look. His body seems to have Indian skin and keeps his arms open as a sign of welcome. Others have sculpted, tired and almost asleep, sometimes thoughtful and cheerful. Also there are crawling with head trying to stand up.

Formerly, the Santurantikuy connoted the presence of altars and ended at three or four in the afternoon. That same day, from early morning, artisans began to arrive, some from remote communities, with their blankets Manuelitos-laden children as they call the baby Jesus, shepherds, wise men, virgins, angels and all that can be incorporated at birth. They come to buy some gift items and others to incorporate a piece each year, their births.

Today it has become one of the largest craft fairs in Peru. It is on the sidewalks of the main square of Cusco, where artists spread their blankets, following the custom of traditional Andean fairs. Santurantikuy in a market where sculptors and artisans provisional offer many different figures to brighten the holidays and accompany the stalls or birth that are assembled into houses and parishes.