The mate burilado or carved gourd, is one of the most skilful examples of Peruvian folk-art. Dating back hundreds of years this tradition comes from the small village of Cochas in the Andean highlands near Huancayo.
The technique has been passed down from generation to generation, each workshop is a family run business and crafted by men, women and children who learn from a very young age.
Most of the colours are natural earthy tints produced by dyeing with minerals and by burning with embers and polishing. Charcoal or chalk are rubbed in the carved lines to better show the designs.The sun-dried gourds are related to pumpkins and come from the lowlands and were traded for corn and beans.
Historically gourds were used as storage jars for salt, spices and drinking vessels for chicha (corn beer). The images depicted told stories, myths and recorded events like weddings. The intricate designs are often carved from memory, more recently with images showing birds, animals, people and dances. Archaeologists have found carved gourds dating back from over 4,000 years. They make a great memento from Peru and are light and easy to carry home.
Want to pick up a gourd for yourself? Why not visit Peru in 2015.