| This three-foot-tall hand-carved stone, with 12 angles, shows the masonry skills of the Quechuas. Every joint is perfect.* * *|
The sacristy of _La Catedral_, started in 1559, and taking 100 years to build, stands today as one of the finest examples of the Cuzco School of painting. It combines European painting, rococo, and contemporary Andean talent, and the results are astonishing. The angels carved in the wood choir of the cathedral, known as one of the most beautiful choirs in the world, are all visibly pregnant and bare-bellied; they resemble the Inca women of the day. Under Catholicism, the Quechua were no longer allowed to worship the mountains and sun, so over and over again, their artists painted a mountainous Virgin Mary, her large robe draped out to the sides, and a white mantilla over her head and shoulders, like snow capping the peak. Around her head theres always a gold orb with giant sun beams. They had to accept the Virgin Mary or die, so they made her into their own _Pachamama_mother earth, who remains a powerful figure in Quechua mythology and daily life, even today.