Oyacachi's inhabitants are well-known for their wood-carving skills, and the traditional techniques have been perpetuated over time, for both practical and ornate ends. A vast number of the community's artisans are girls between the ages 15 and 16, who have finished their schooling but do not yet have families of their own. Working in the community workshop, they produce original pieces, created according to traditional designs, and decorated according to their own unique tastes, which are sold in the local craft shop. Each original item is numbered, so that it can be traced back to the artist.
Wood carving is the traditional trade of this Andean community. The coarsely chiseled ladles, bowls and shallow trays are examples of the original items which are still used today, while their highly-polished and handpainted counterparts - smooth round bowls, pots with perfectly fitting lids, intricately carved chopping boards - display the villagers' true competence and creativity.
The most impressive and intricate example of the artisans’ talent, however, and of their remarkable community spirit, are the three totem poles on display in the main plaza. Native species such as spectacled bears, sloth, rodents, birds and flowers emerge from the twisted trunks of the Quijuar tree, carved largely by teenage girls from the community, over a period of six months. Polished to a high shine, these totem poles are as delightful to touch as they are to view, and the subtle, iridescent paint highlights the texture of the wood as it reflects the bright equatorial sun.
Arts and Culture
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