Universal and International Exhibition of Paris 1900

The balance sheet of a century

April 15, 1900-November 12, 1900


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Peru

Peru at the Exhibition Paris 1900

This palace was situated on the rue des nations immediately behind the royal pavilion.
The Palace of Peru, which followed the Palace of Portugal in this row, was a multicoloured construction, of a pretentious and ungainly style, which only vaguely recalled the beautiful lines of the architecture of the Incas. More fortunate than its brilliant neighbours, however, it was destined to survive its appearance on the Quai d'Orsay and, built entirely of iron and stone, was to be dismantled once its role had been fulfilled and rebuilt in Lima, where it was to serve as a museum. It represented here the whole of the Peruvian exhibition and housed the rich products of the soil and industry of this Republic. In the vast hall on the ground floor, we passed quickly through the grains, sugars, coffees and other so-called colonial goods, but we stopped for a moment in front of the quiquinas and cocas, two medicinal plants that we owe to Peru and whose role has become so considerable in modern therapeutics. Everyone knows that it is from the former that the beneficial quinine, one of the most effective antidotes to fever, has been extracted; but the cocas, more recently introduced into our country, is also less well known, although all those who have had to visit the dentist, and perhaps, alas, the surgeon, have been able to appreciate the benefits of cocaine, a powerful local anaesthetic derived from this plant. In South America, the natives use coca as a stimulant; the leaves, which they chew in a fresh state, enable them to endure the greatest fatigue and especially to cross the high depressing altitudes of these regions without inconvenience.
A wide staircase led to the first floor, where there was an interesting collection of weapons and ornaments of the natives of the Amazon, mummies of Incas, animal skins, scales of giant tortoises, as well as beautiful gold and silver jewellery.

©Louis Rousselet - L'Exposition Universelle de 1900