Friday, December 17, 2010

Sucre and Potosi

Our base of operations in Sucre was this beautiful old Colonial hotel, Parador Santa Maria la Real.

The hotel had a wonderful rooftop courtyard with a view of the city.

One of the highlights of Sucre was the textile museum.  There were wonderful displays showing the different textiles from the regions surrounding Sucre.  On our day trips out of Sucre, most of the weavings we saw were either of the Tarabuco or Jalq'a people.

The photo above is of a Tarabuco weaver who was working at the museum.  The hat she has on is called a "tadpole" and signifies that she is an unmarried woman.  The black flap on the side is the tadpole's tail.

The Tarabuco women weave panels with very intricate animals, people, landscapes, and buildings.  Sometimes the weavings tell a story.  Some of the panels are used as a decorative edging on the women's skirts. 

These bags are used by men to carry coca leaves. There is often a very small pocket for carrying the ash catalyst.

I suspect this purse below was almost like a sampler.  A younger weaver might have been learning the patterns for the various figures as she wove one row of each. 

This woman is from the Jalq'a group.  Jalq'a weavings are traditionally red and black and feature writhing mythical demons and pregnant animals.

In Sucre we explored the town square and did some shopping.

The following day we took a drive to Potosi, famous for its silver mines.  Our guide told us that during the 1600's, Potosi was a larger city than Paris or London.  Potosi is at 13,500' elevation, the highest town of its size in the world.

The mountain at the end of this street held the main silver deposits.

We visited the Mint Museum there.  Near the entryway is this painting of the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) in the shape of the mountain.

The Spanish minted coins in Potosi.

Much of the minting machinery was brought to Potosi all the way from Spain.

The mask on the building represents the local man who lead the Spanish to the silver deposits.  He has become the sort of mascot of Potosi.

We visited the miner's market.  It is customary for visitors to the mines to bring gifts to the miners, usually cigarettes, alcohol and coca leaves.

On the hill outside the entrance to the mine are miners' housing and the hospital.

This city and the accomplishments of the 1600's were truly amazing.  Just like being at Machu Picchu, it makes you think maybe we haven't come that far after all.

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