Miniatures: South American Style

2010_2 Galapagos Islands 488We discovered a type of folk art very similar to our beloved American minis on a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.  “Retablos” are colorful vignettes of festivals and everyday life made from a plaster and mashed potato mixture. Originally dating back to 1532, retablos were first crafted as miniature religious shrines. Over the years they almost disappeared, but regained popularity in the 1940’s when country artisans began to depict scenes such as fiestas, markets, workshops and home life. Today there are countless different styles and sizes. Most retablos are positioned inside brightly painted wooden boxes, but you may find others done in egg shells or even small chewing gum boxes. (Remember “Chiclets”?) Others still are made with as many as five floors, all with different scenes, taking many months of work to complete. All the wonderful retablos we saw were full of activity and vibrant color… it was easy to appreciate the fun and enthusiasm in each and every one!

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