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Santurantikuy in Cusco

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 07-10-2022

On December 24th, the Santurantikuy Fair takes place in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas every year. This Artisan Fair is an important day for Andean artisans and takes place all day and late into the evening. The Santurantikuy traditional fair in Cusco was named Cultural Heritage of the Peruvian Nation on September 22, 2009, for being one of the most representative cultural expressions of Catholicism in the Andean region of Peru. Without a shadow of a doubt, it is one of the most recognized Christmas festivals in all of Peru.

This event brings together around 500 artisans, who, coming from different parts of Cusco and other regions of the country, exhibit their creative work throughout the year, which will decorate homes and institutions for the Christmas period. This spectacular traditional art fair brings together artists and artisans, many of which are from the San Blas neighborhood of Cusco.

 

Peruvian Nativity Scene

 

History

 

The fair dates back hundreds of years, from colonial days when Catholic priests would try to convert the indigenous people of the Cusco region to Christianity who accepted some of the Catholic practices, incorporating them into their traditional, indigenous spirituality. The name Santurantikuy derives from both Spanish and Quechua; “Santu”, or saint in Latin, and “tikuy”, in Quechua, meaning sale. Elements of the ancient Inca religion, such as the sacred mountains of the Andes, called Apus, and Inti, the sun god, is often symbolized in the crafts sold at the fair.

 

Santurantinkuy, Early Evening

 


Manuelito

 

One of the most characteristic artisanal objects of the Santurantikuy Fair is the “Niño Manuelito”. The creation of Manuelito's dates back to colonial times, way back in Cusco’s history, to the colonial era. These figurines and sculptures represent The Baby Jesus Christ, traditionally shown as a white-skinned child with black curls and a tiny mirror inside the mouth. Nowadays, Manuelito's have become more diverse, and artists apply their different interpretations, perhaps with varying skin tones, in various poses, or with other facial expressions. Every Christmas Eve, thousands of people attend Santurantikuy and wander around, browsing and admiring each artisan’s creations. And there are hundreds of expert artisans exhibiting their crafts.
El Niño Manuelito is the central character of Christmas in Cusco. The city has a festive atmosphere with the arrangement of the balconies of the Plaza De Armas, with Christmas lights, tinsel, and Christmas decorations. The image of the child Manuelito is venerated yearly during the Christmas holidays as the central image. 

 

Manuelito's

 
 

The Handicraft Fair


You can find many objects on sale at this artisan fair, such as wooden sculptures, plaster, metal, ceramics, and altarpieces. You can see various kinds of miniatures and tiny metal objects, the most popular being the clay images to decorate the nativity scenes, brought from various towns in Cusco.  The fascinating thing is the world view in the presence of the different figurines for the nativity, with llamas, cows, donkeys, sheep, alpacas, and other Andean animals, that make up the scene of birth. The wise men, virgins, Joseph, Mary, and several angels, can be found at this fascinating market.

 

Merry Christmas on a Cusco Wooden Door


Delicacies of Santurantikuy


Traditional treats are sold on every corner of the market, with sweets, cotton candy, “chicha” corn beer, and Andean bread at night in Cusco hot punchCusco hot punch. In the afternoon, the smell of chicharron and other traditional Cusco dishes floods the streets. 

 

Candy Floss Sellers

 

 

Each Christmas Eve, thousands of people attend Santurantikuy and wander slowly, browsing and admiring each artisan’s creations. And there are hundreds of expert artisans presenting their crafts. Why not come and spend a magical Christmas holiday in Cusco? We will be there every step of the way so that you can experience a memorable and very different Christmas holiday!

 

!Feliz Navidad!

 

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