Again, a new incredible and beautiful sign of our history; despite what current government say about rejecting our past, we Bolivians cannot abstract from what we are: a country with tradition, with history, with a mestizo and western culture. Pagina Siete’s Richard Sanchez shares to the world the Angels of Calamarca [one of those beautiful paintings I use as my avatar]:
60 kilometers from the city of La Paz, there is the locality of Calamarca, whose [Catholic] Temple saved 35 paintings of incalculable value, is of angels painted between the 17th and 18th centuries, of anonymous authorship. It’s the most complete collection in all Latin America and a project aims to promote a tourist route to get to know this cultural richness in a playful way.
A convoy of journalists depart from the meeting point in the southern area of La Paz and after an hour of travel on a fully paved road up to Calamarca (Aroma province) by the Living Learning Travel tourism operator, which works in coordination with the Calacoto Hotel and the Foundation Eco village.
Angeles, a legacy of faith
Daniel Valdivia, the guide of the group, explains broadly the characteristics of the 35 colonial paintings, best known as the Angels of Calamarca, which jealously is guarded by community in the Church which dates back to 1913, according to an inscription on the carved stone gate beneath a white cross. “There is a controversy as to the sex of the angels, as some say that they are men, while others claim that they are women, on these tables with the influence of the Sevillian painting and cusqueña [Cuzco, Peru] school,” says Valdivia.
As the Angels was one of the topics most characteristic of the painting from the Viceregal in America, this kind of art and characters are found in different villages of Peru, Argentina and even in other departments of Bolivia. Calamarca is one of the most complete collections, including Angels holding arquebuses, swords, holding keys or spikes of wheat or a bundle of fire in his hand.
In the paintings [to the right: Arquebuse Angel Asiel Timor Dei, 1650], it does not appear any signature and it has been called in a general way as the author to be the master of Calamarca. However, it is believed that the painter might be José López de los Ríos, because the angels painted in the Carabuco region in 1684 are almost identical to the one found in Calamarca, experts say.
A little exploited destination
Although the characteristics of the area and the importance of these works, are little or not known, therefore Living Learning Travel aims to reverse this situation. “Every tourist who comes here not only can enjoy these magnificent works of art, they also can reproduce the same through painting workshops or pottery we offer by the end of the tour”, explains Luis Ampuero, Calacoto Hotel director.
Starting this February, this company will organize every other two weeks a tour that will last more than five hours, intended for groups of between four and ten tourists. For $35 per person, which includes lunch, visit to the Church, knowing in detail the paintings, also there will be workshops for painting replicas of the angels of Calamarca in ceramic or “canson” cardboard.
Bolivian Thoughts in an Emerging World blog is inspired in the determination of my Angel avatar, we do not have to dismay and we have to be proud of who we are, regardless of current attempts to ears our beautiful past. Any society must work to improve, to evolve, rather than rejecting everything, that it completely irresponsible and damaging to any human being.