Retablo Box c.1920


United Kingdom

Hoarde Vintage Member since 2017
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Early 20th Century Original Retablo
We are proud to offer an original early 20th Century Retablo box filled with a colourful scene of village and farm life. Retablos are a sophisticated Peruvian folk art in the form of portable boxes which depict religious, historical, or everyday events that are important to the Indigenous people of the highlands. It is a tradition originated in Ayacucho.

The History of the Retablo
"Santero boxes" originated in Europe and came to Peru with the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. Before bringing them to Peru, the boxes were used as portable altars by medieval travelers and pilgrims and were carried by soldiers into battle during the Crusades. In Peru, they were used by the Spanish evangelists to teach the Catholic faith to the native "infidels".

They were carried into the remote regions of Peru by the muleteers who carried all the products imported into South America by the Spanish. The muleteers, traveling long and arduous journeys through the Andes, relied on the magic capacity of the boxes to protect them from mishaps on their routes. Often, they would not come across another living soul for many days and faced storms, loss of animals, sickness and the supernatural world that filled the Andes with spirits and demons. When they camped they placed them under a canvas awning with oranges and flowers and lighted candles to ask for protection during their trip.

From the 17th to the 19th centuries, the Santero boxes were gradually transformed and integrated into the rural peasant religious life in a way reflecting cultural syncretism. They were used in magic ritual functions in the remote mountain regions in July and August of each year. The boxes/altars presided over the animal branding ceremony, one of the most important in the community life, because it insured the abundance and fertility of the animals. The box was placed outside on a table, where the owners of the animals would request its permission to begin the branding. Different saints were considered patrons of specific animals. For example, Saint Mark was the patron of bulls and cows; Saint Luke, the patron of the puma or Andean lion. There are many areas in which the indigenous people incorporated components from the new Spanish colonialist religion into their centuries-old traditional religious rites.

The knowledge to produce these boxes was passed on from one generation to the next in families dedicated to creating and maintaining this traditional craft. Beginning in the 1940's, the production of Santero boxes had almost completely passed into oblivion because the muleteers, who traditionally carried them from one region to another had been replaced by 20th century roads and trucks.
Dimensions in inches: H 12” x W 7” x D 3.5”
Origin: Peru
Period: 1920
Condition: Aged through wear and tear is present across this item as you can see, patination across the wooden surface is present with light fading in sections and aged cracks across the paint and reverse wooden box. Rust and chipped paint across the hinge sections is also present, structurally secure and not cracked or broken.
Postage: Please get in touch in advance of a purchase if you based outside of the UK to clarify P&P on this item as this varies dependent upon your global location. Global shipping is possible so please view all shipping details as explained. With items of this fragile and rare nature we always recommend recorded/tracked postage with adequate insurance cover. This may cost a bit more, but at least you are covered from accidents that may take place whilst in transit.
Disclaimer: We do our upmost to relay descriptions and the origin of items sold in our store. We also aim to visualise through pictorial reference the items that are for sold as best we can. The disclaimer is for the customer and makes sure assumptions that can sometimes be made are avoided. We always aim to make sure our customers are not disappointed or misinformed about items that are for sale in our store. For this reason, we strongly recommend that relevant questions relating to the item in question are proposed to us directly, additionally all photographs are used as reference and as part of the advertisement.
Shipping: We aim to ship your purchased item in 2 to 3 working days. The item is packed well and shipped via Parcelforce or Royal mail. Additional to this we used a few carefully selected couriers in the UK to deliver our most fragile or larger item. The courier option is applied at the buyer’s cost, so please get in touch with us directly for further information.
Our promise: We believe in what we do, deliver what we say we will deliver, and make sure that our unique items are presented and delivered as we would expect them to be presented and delivered to us. Customer service and satisfaction is as important as the item itself and we believe therefore our customers keep coming back for more beautiful and unique item to decorate their lives with.
Cancellation: We are unable to refund any item which is purchased unless the item is different from what is described in the advert stated. We go to a lot of effect to insure our customers are happy with their items and purchases. Therefore, we strongly suggest the customer consider the purchase/view all pictures and close ups and propose as many questions via email before a purchase is made. We do no refund our customers if they choose to change their mind about the purchase unfortunately, we will however offer a full refund of the item (excluding postage) if the item once received is not as described, this however can only take place within 48hr



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