Many visitors come for Ayacucho’s thriving craft industry, mainly woven rugs and retablos (finely worked little wooden boxes containing intricate three-dimensional religious scenes made mainly from papier-mâché). If you’ve got the time to spare, however, it’s more interesting and less expensive to visit some of the actual craft workshops and buy from the artisans themselves. Most of these workshops are found in the barrio of Santa Ana, just uphill from the Plaza de Armas: locals are always happy to guide visitors in the right direction. Some of the best-quality retablos are not all that expensive, but if you want one of their more complicated modern pieces it could cost as much as $300, and take up to three months to complete.
Edwin Sulca – arguably the best known weaver here – lives opposite the church on the Plaza Santa Ana; his work sells from around $100 (almost double in Lima’s shops), and many of his designs graphically depict the recent political horrors around Ayacucho.
Gerado Fernandez Palomino is another excellent weaver who has a store in his house and workshop located on Jr Paris 600, also in Santa Ana.
Alabaster carvings – known in Peru as Huamanga stone carvings – are another speciality of Ayacucho. Try Señor Pizarro, Jr San Cristoval 215, who has a reputation as one of the best carvers in town. The craft cooperative Ahuaccllacta, Huanca Solar 130, is also worth checking out.
Head to the following: Plazoleta María Pardo de Bellido, and Jirón Libertad, blocks 7–9; the first block of Jirón Paris; second block of Pasaje Bolognesi; and the first two of Jirón Asamblea.