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Peru - Expo Paris 1878

Peru at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1878

The facade that Peru has built for itself on the interior street parallel to the Rue des Nations has been much praised and much appreciated by the public.

A specimen of the purest Inca style, it was built by Mr. Charles Wiener, under his direction, from elements brought back from the country where he was on mission in 1876 and 1877. It is composed of porticoes borrowed from the Inca palace of Huanaco-Viejo, of a truly imposing aspect, decorated with bas-reliefs found in the ruins of Tia-Huanaco. This facade gives, in truth, a very great idea of the architecture and civilisation of the Incas, and does particular credit to the learned traveller who supplied the elements.


On each side of the main door, in a sort of wide niche, are exhibited curious mannequins dressed in two different costumes of Peruvian ladies, who are missing nothing, not even the fan. These ladies have replaced two natives, also in costume, who have been transported to the French liberal arts gallery,
in the collection of scientific missions, not far from the curious colossal monolithic fountain, also brought back from Peru by Mr. Wiener.

Messrs. Clovis Lamarre and Charles Wiener, in their book: l'Amérique centrale et méridionale à l'Exposition de 1878, relate the appearance and disappearance of the two natives as follows; the account is too amusing for us to deprive our readers:
"In the façade of the Peruvian exhibition, the architect had designed niches for two ancient warriors who, dressed in authentic pre-conquest costumes, would have completed and brought to life the truthful and picturesque ensemble of this façade.

"These warriors were placed there and guarded the Native Palace from 30 April to 15 May 1878. On that day, at six o'clock in the morning, they left their posts of honour and went to the French room of the scientific missions.

"This change of employment has an ethnographic reason and, as it occurred in our midst, it is all the more curious.

"The many members of the Peruvian colony in Paris revolted at the sight of the two warriors, and demanded that the Honourable Minister of Peru, Mr. J. M. de Goyeneche, be allowed to take them.

"They declared that Europe might suspect Peru of being inhabited by such picturesque people as these guards, while it was well known that all good society was being dressed by Alfred Godchau and the beautiful Jardinière.

"No reason prevailed; neither the scientific opinion of the author of the façade, nor the artistic reasoning of the architect, nor the favourable opinion of the other members of the Commission.

"Mr. de Goyeneche had to give in to the ardour and insistence of South American patriotism.

Peruvian education was not represented; the book trade and printing industry sent various works of science and literature.

Perfumery is naturally represented by Peruvian coca;

Leather goods, tableware and basketry exhibited beautiful objects in filigree, tables in marquetry or ivory inlay.

Vicuña wool garments, catacoos straw hats and silk and alpaca gloves are the main curiosities of the clothing class.

Pharmaceutical and food products are not very attractive; the President of the Republic of Peru exhibited samples of sugar.

Finally, there are specimens of guano, which is, as we know, one of the main sources of income for the country.

©Les Merveilles de l'Exposition de 1878