“My name is Percy Rojas García; I was born in 1979 in El Tambo Huancayo Junin. I consider myself an understanding and supportive man in the face of any new situation in my art, and detailed and meticulous in everyday life. From a very young age I was involved in art; my parents were the ones who taught me everything that I know today. In the Huancayo workshops, many families who want to learn this art are taught. We carry it in our veins since we are born.
“As I was born in a home of artisans, I learned and acquired mastery as well as playing with carved gourds. I still maintain the enthusiasm of dedicating myself to it every day, despite the difficulties. You get to convey that feeling of satisfaction and love for what you do.
“Members of my family are in charge of bringing the raw material, preparing and selecting the models for which they will be used, and with the time that remains they also help to paint or engrave. Four craftsmen collaborate with me, who support us with the engraving or painting.
“My inspiration comes from nature and animals. The history that is born from this art is also a great source of inspiration for the soul. The Lagenaria siceraria plant, normally known as mate or gourd in Peru, produces a fruit with a woody bark that constitutes the support for the elaboration of carved mate. Cultures of the north coast, such as Mochica and Chimú, created mates with geometric figures of fish and birds. Also in places like Huaura, Ancón, Pachacamac and the south coast, mates of similar characteristics have been discovered. The Incas further developed the technique and used mates intensively as vessels, musical instruments, and ceremonial objects. On the surface, they represented agricultural and social activities that were accompanied by geometric motifs.
“One of the biggest challenges I had to face was coming from Huancayo to Lima without having the support of anyone, and overcoming all the adversities to live here in the capitol. It was undoubtedly very hard, but it left me with great life lessons.
“What I like the most about my art is the painted pieces; they are ornamental animals of the coast/sierra/jungle, aviaries or bird houses. The challenging thing in this art is creating; imagining the new designs.
“One of my big dreams together with my family is to implement a museum dedicated to the carved mate gourds, and to consolidate a handicraft workshop in the capitol to share Peruvian art with everyone.
“It has been a challenge to continue as a craftsman in the world of decorated gourds, especially the great responsibility of representing my land, of which I feel very proud.
Thanks to my art, not only my family and I benefit, but also the groups of artisans with whom I collaborate in my community and people who really feel passion for the art. My family and I have overcome the difficult moments that are a result of this pandemic that hit us so hard and continues to do so. Thanks to God, we have the health and strength to be able to move forward and dedicate ourselves to what we love to do the most.”