La Paz Feature


Bolivian Crafts

Bolivia's rich selection of crafts includes silver jewelry, handwoven rugs, intricate embroidery, and traditional musical instruments such as the quena (flute) and charango (mandolin). You'll also find sweaters, gloves, scarves, and ponchos made from alpaca or llama wool. Both materials make for excellent fabrics. Crafts shops, like other types of business in Bolivia, are usually grouped together. In La Paz, for instance, most can be found on Calle Sagárnaga. It's always worth looking for cooperatives outside the capital, however. These sell traditional textiles made in rural areas, especially in the provinces of Chuquisaca and Potosí. The shawls, hats, and skirts worn by highland women are sold in most of the local markets and in some stores in La Paz, but shopkeepers sometimes refuse to sell some types of traditional garments to foreigners. However, the felt bowler hats are for sale everywhere, and make an interesting fashion statement back home. Due to the low level of tourism, souvenirs tend to be realistically priced. Although bargaining is expected in rural markets, many sellers will drop their prices only by small amounts, typically 5% to 10%. In general, stores are open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday, while street vendors can be found selling goods seven days a week. It is forbidden by law to export original pre-Columbian pieces, colonial silver plates, and colonial paintings.

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