Sculptures: Nayanquiwa, a lithic museum hidden in Laja

An idea and passion were enough for the sculptor Rolando Narvaez, who decided to set up a unique repository of sculptures in his home town in the highlands of La Paz.

In the picture to the right, taken by Alejandra Pau, who also wrote this article for Pagina Siete, Rolando Narvaez shows one of its stone pieces that can be found in the museum Nayanquiwa, located in Laja.

A patio with plants and a fountain is the center of this small universe formed with stones embedded in the walls or cement benches. Despite its beauty and artistic wealth, is an almost unknown place.

A little over four years engineer Rolando Carlos Narvaez, a lifelong fan of the sculpture, decided to open the museum doors Nayanquiwa (“this is mine” in Quechua), on Luis Escobar Avenue N°168, Laja, La Paz.

Narvaez’s parents were born in this historic town in which La Paz was founded 463 years ago by Spanish Alonso de Mendoza, just steps from Nayanquiwa.

Art and highlands

A collection of 100 pieces of stone are the backbone of the repository that Narvaez conditioned in the house his mother left him. There are also exhibited fifty works of different materials, such as avocado seeds, plaster or wood.

Almost all the work of the sculptor are made of limestone and sandstone, characterized by its reddish color and well known as the raw material of the buildings of Tiwanaku.

Narvaez love towards sculpture came to him spontaneously, first as a hobby, but gradually began to understand it was a way to express and communicate, so he decided to show their work.

Thus Nayanquiwa became one of the few artistic places, if not the only one that students of the school units located in the vicinity of Laja can visit free of charge.

Children of stone

Beyond the fixed collection and permanent display, Narvaez organizes two or three exhibitions a year with new pieces, from his three days a week work routine. Some are sold and others are in the museum that constantly expands its range.

“They are like my children and as a father I did not want my kids to go. I am excited at selling them, so if people do not buy them, I’m glad they remain in the museum,” he says.

Many of the figures that he creates have their own history. Some are related with national dances and traditions.

Unlike other sculptors who generally have a definite idea of the piece before they start working, this artist will have emerging ideas while watching the rock, as he starts working in the museum courtyard home.

For this sculptor, who did not marry nor has children, the stone is part of himself. Not only because part of it will endure over time, but it is his “companion.”

Because of that, and as he turns older, he would like one of his nephews or a relative would take care of Nayanquiwa.

Tiwanaku, the great inspiration

“I do not use a grinder, use points, chisels, hammers, tools used by our parents. The use of the grinder for me is very simplistic because it is like cutting a piece of cheese with a knife, “says Narvaez.

For the sculptor, Tiwanaku is an inspiration, not a parameter to copy. However, this ancient citadel is the inspiration for his next exhibition to be presented in 2012, whose main characteristic and innovation will be the mixture of stone and metal to form figures alluding to the ancient culture.

In the future, close before December 8, when there is the principal festivity of Laja, Narvaez plans to launch an informational CD that will contain the core values and cultural heritage of this town, the temple, the museum and other facilities.

“The goal of the museum, as with all development activities is to highlight that art and culture should not only be in capital cities but also in the provinces. Laja is a town rich in history and its value deserves to be rescued from different points of view, “said Narvaez.

I commend Alejandra Pau for writing about Rolando Narvaez’s work; not everything is negative these days, Bolivia has this type of entrepreneurial artists, so please visit Rolando!

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