History of Retablos
Since literacy was scarce in the Middle Ages, churches began to incorporate stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible as a means of relating the message of the gospel to those without access to education. This is just one example of how images have been used in place of the written word particularly in the context of religion.
In Peru, Andean folk art has embraced storytelling through images with the construction of retablos. Retablos are three-dimensional boxes with figures inside, depicting a story of either religious significance or everyday life. In the same vein, nativities are figures set within a scene to tell the story of the birth of Jesus. So combining the Andean tradition of retablo with the story of the nativity is a natural meld.
Delicately handcrafted inside ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree, or in boxes for the mantle, Peruvian retablos will remind you of the true meaning of Christmas while at the same time, embracing the spirit of giving by supporting the artisans who make them, providing them with an opportunity to earn fair wages and a sustainable income.
Ten Thousand Villages works closely with artisans in towns including Ayacucho, Cuzco, and impoverished sections of Lima in order to help indigenous artisans preserve this cultural tradition.