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CHULUCANAS - LAND OF POTTER

Morropon with its capital Chulucanas is one of the most important districts of the Grau region, due to the quality of its soil and farming production. It is located in the west of the Piura Andes at an altitude of 131 meters above sea level, and has a fresh climate, though hot in summer, when average temperatures reach 32°Celsius. Of its 3,817 km2 surface area, 2,333 correspond to coastal lands and 1,484 to the sierra. Its population is 172,596. Its access roads, that start at the fork to Catacaos are all paved.

In 1532 the area of the Tallan belonged to the Quechuas, and the valley was ruled by cacique (chief) Maizabilce; they had settled in the area between Motupe and Lambayeque on the south and Mantas, on the north, in Ecuador. The early inhabitants of Morropon and Chulucanas lived in this scenario, heavily influenced socially and politically by these tribes around them. Some remnants of their works remain, such as the canal carved out of living rock, midway up the Cerro de la Cruz, north of Morropon, which was used by the Tallan farmers to irrigate their crops. Shards of pottery found indicate that the Tallan were skilled potters, a craft that still remains important today in the local village of "La Encantada". In 1501 Spanish colonists totally divided the territory among themselves, establishing their rule over the previous Inca order.

The most important activity to be observed in Chulunas is pottery making, an activity carried out 5 km from Chulucanas, in the village of "La Encantada", a place full of potters and their legends, a tradition inherited from the culture of Vicu and Tallan, reflected in their work, traditions, lifestyle and everything else that has enabled archaeologists and historians to reconstruct the social and economic life of a hard-working, collectively-minded population; their ceramic products are famed internationally at present, and although they use ancient craft methods, their production is of superb quality. The people of this area have made their mark in the world by working clay with finely textured finishes that amaze their own countrymen and foreigners alike; Moreover, this area is known for its woven straw hats and its animal fiber crafts, such as blankets, ponchos, rucksacks and cabuya rope; Using the style inherited from the Incas, they color everything ocher, yellow and black, using soot from mango leaves to obtain the latter (they burn the leaves by a "smoking" method). Many beautiful items may be admired in the production centers themselves, and you can watch how they are exquisitely finished. They will also pack your purchases for transport. These ceramics are unique and very beautiful. You are sure to enjoy whatever piece strikes your fancy.

This region also has some attractive "Medicinal Lakes" located in Cerro Negro, some 6 km from Chalaco, near the village of Inapampa, that are also a natural lookout point to admire the beauty of the surrounding landscape and nature. This area is used by well-known local faith-healers for their healing rites.

The gastronomy of this area is highly varied, and generally based on the local products, such as: seco de chabelo (based on ground plantain with dried meat or pemmican), los chifles (very thin slices of fried plantain), cebiche de carne and copus (on the coast), and in the sierra: fried cuy, chicharron con mote (pork with one of the varieties of corn), wheat and corn tortillas, and the famous local drink "chicha de jora". Some of the towns restaurants offer all these dishes, and others offer a reduced selection.

If you wish to visit Chulucanas and its surroundings, first you must get to this town, after a 45-minute trip from the city of Piura along a paved road that is mostly in good condition, though some stretches are deteriorated. In this capital of the province of Morropon, you will find an old-fashioned city where everyone you pass on the street will greet you, and having a series of small shops located around the plaza de armas (central square of the city). You wil also find a number of shops selling craftwork from "La Encantada", one of which has a craft workshop at the back; once you have seen the beautiful ceramic ware on display in Chulucanas, we suggest you make a trip to nearby "La Encantada", using for the purpose a "motokar" (sidecar motorcycles that will seat two passengers comfortably for short distances). This place is 5 km from Chulucanas, along a dry and dusty (from April through November) track, a pleasant airy twenty-minute trip through a dry forest, every so often passing groups of villagers seeking refreshment at the foot of large shade trees. You will also see pack mules and other beasts of burden carrying firewood to be used in the pottery firing kilns. The people of the area are friendly and helpful.

Among the most important cultural attractions we can mention: El Monte de Los Padres, an ex-hacienda where the second settlement of the Spanish city of San Miguel de Piura took place in 1534, including the areas of Piura la Vieja and La Bocana (Monte de Los Padres); Zona arqueologica de Vicus , La Gran Necropolis . located 7 km southeast of Chulucanas, on Mt Vicus and its surroundings, evidence of the development of a major culture leaving beautiful artwork in gold filigree and pottery; Ruinas de los Confesionarios, 16 km from Chalaco, where the most interesting thing is the design and construction of the buildings.

El baile del tondero , a local colonial dance, has made the city of Chulucanas famous as "The Capital of the Tondero". Its romantic choreography displays movements betraying natural gestures of flirtation during the courting of couples; whatever its origins, the tondero forms part of family culture in Morropon. That is why, every Sunday, groups of people can be seen swaying to this rhythm accompanied by guitars and drums. Oblivious to the hot sand floor, ecstatic couples join the fray barefoot weaving an intricate pattern and waving their kerchiefs on high.


 
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