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Culture of Peru

Peruvian culture is a mix of many cultures, but with many differences between different parts of the country. The main input comes from both the Amerindian inhabitants as well as Spanish colonizers. Other influences come from Asians, Africans and other Europeans.


During the pre-Columbian time, Peru was one of the major artistic centres in the Americas. During the colonial time Spanish Baroque fused with Inca tradition, resulting in mestizo or Creole art. After 1932, the "indigenous school" of painting headed by Jose Sabogal was dominant in cultural Peru. Modern Peruvian painting arose. Nowadays is still an art producing center, most known painters are Gerardo Chavez, Alberto Quintanilla and Jose Carlos Ramos together with sculptor Victor Delfin. Peru's economy nowadays allows more promotion of the arts which positively influences the international stature and the development of young artists.


Peruvian literature from before the colonial times, mostly consist of the oral traditions of the indigenous. Writing was introduced by the coming of the Spaniards. Colonial literature consists of chronicles and religious literature. During the second half of the 20th century Peruvian literature became more known thanks to writers like Mario Vargas Llosa.


Also architecture in Peru is a mix of European and indigenous styles, called mestization. An example of the early colonial style is the Cathedral of Cusco. This expressed more in the years of the Baroque with good examples like the convent of San Francisco de Lima.


Musicians before the colonial time mostly used wind instruments such as the quena, pinkillo and siku (better known as zampoña). After the Spanish invasion new instruments like the guitar, harp and lute mixed with the already present instruments. But the band was then not yet complete. With the arrival of the African slaves also percussion instruments were introduced.


All cities and villages in Peru have their own celebrations relating to the legends and traditions that live in that particular place, for instance the Inti Raymi in Cusco. Nationwide celebrations are mostly related to Christianity.


The Inti Raymi or Holiday of the Sun, was the most important holiday in the time of the Incas. The occasion is the celebration of the solstice of the winter (the new solar year) for a town whose main cultural value was the Inti (the sun) God, on the Huacaypata square in Cusco.

The religious importance, the ceremonial, social and political festivity were so big, that the holiday lasted for whole of the Tahuantisuyo.

After the Spanish invasion, the ceremony was suppressed by the Catholic church and the Andean society that celebrated the Holiday of the Sun. The Inti Raymi got forgotten until halfway 20th century, when a big movement gave expression to the revaluation of the native Peruvian culture and the celebration returned. IN 1944 a group of Cusquenian intellectuals and artists leaded by Humberto Vidal U., decided to recover the Inti Raymi from history and presented it as a theater-like spectacle, destined to the whole population of Cusco(Qosqo). Since then, with hardly any exceptions, every year the celebration happens, enriching and evolving because of the historical investigation.

After the invasion, the Inti Raymi in the Inca time was a religious ceremony, now it is a representation of theater, nevertheless this expression generates a feeling of identity in the city, which evokes values and memories that are still excellent in our days. The version is expressed in the original language, Quechua, but with translation to Castellano (Spanish) for a better understanding.

"The Inca, with the help of the Priests "induced"  the God Inti (sun) exactly when he arrived at the point most far from the earth and commenced his approach to Cusco, to return with its great rays, to fertilize the earth and to procurar the well-being of the children of the great Tahuantisuyo empire."

The actual Ceremony, on the 24th of June every year, happens in Sacsayhuaman, the complete representation of the splendorous Inca rite, with a renewed script, prepared by distinguished specialists of this subject. At the night before the ceremony the fires in whole of the Tahuantisuyo empire were put out. In Cusco at the great Huacaypata square (now Plaza de Armas) all most brilliant people of the empire came together.

In the shades, the crowd waited for the appearance of the God Inti (sun) with great respect. Generals, princes and all the nobility remained in a deep silence; many of them dressed up as wild animals or other animals of the Andean mythology.

When the sun appeared, they expressed their recognition for having and adoring the sun by showing joy. Its virtue created and sustained all earthly things and the people thanked him for the harvests they received during the year.

The sacred fire was renewed with a concave gold bracelet which was held against the sunlight, which' reflections were projected on a piece of cotton which than quickly caught fire. The sacred fire was taken to Qoricancha, where it was conserved by the Acllas.

During the ceremony also a lama was sacrificed to predict the coming year, after it a big military march and at the end all retire and burst into desenfrenada que duraba varios días.


Peruvian food is very diverse and like other parts in this culture section, influenced by cultures of the immigrants of Europe, Asia and Africa. Much used vegetables are Maize, potatoes, tomatoes, oca, ulluco and avocado. Typical fruits often used are chirimoya, lúcuma, tuna (no not the fish, that is atun in Spanish), granadilla, papaya and pineapple but also the common fruit like apples, bananas and mandarins are eaten a lot. Typical meat are taruca, llama and guinea-pig but really popular is chicken. Also almost a lot of dishes are served with rice.
A real typical dish is ceviche, fish and shellfish marinated in citrus juice. Peru is a big fishing country and therefore also a lot of fish dishes are popular. Also lomo saltado, lightly fried meat with tomato and union, French fries and rice is very popular. Typical drink is Chicha morada (maize drink).


By far the most popular sport in Peru is Football (soccer). In every small town a football field is to be found and the people are really crazy of the sport. World cup appearances were in 1930, 1970, 1978 and 1982. The biggest clubs are Universitario de Deportes (Lima), Alianza Lima, Sporting Cristal (Rimác, Lima) and Cienciano (Cusco).

Other popular sports are taekwondo, Volleyball and surfing.

Daily life

Daily life in Peru very much differs in the cities and the farmland. In the cities a lot of people dress western, but also some traditional clothing can be seen here. More and more people here are starting to enjoy the western commodities, get to know with the technologies. Life here can therefore be described as westernizing.
In the farmland people are still banned of this and most of them live the traditional farming life. Even the language here is still the traditional, for very much people still speak Quechua or Aymara.




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