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Handicrafts to Look for in South America

by Angelique Platas

Apr 21, 2019

Vitmark – Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

One highlight of any trip to South America is all the amazing local shops, handicrafts and authentic pieces you can take away as a memento from the trip. Not only is the shopping aspect a fun family activity on your next trip, and you get away with some great gifts, but the entire experience is a fun memory to have with the kids. The extra special attention you pay to the tradition and craftsmanship behind a simple piece we may take for granted at home is all the more special on a family trip.


Check out the local markets in your area, which vary depending on how populated the region your family is staying in is, but there will be local shopping nonetheless. Let the brightly colored crafts and handmade goods catch your eye and lead you through the long-standing traditions of the South American culture, along with ancient art techniques and indigenous history — all while you shop.


Next time you’re traveling through any one of the continent’s 12 countries, keep an eye out for specific handicrafts you know have the greatest chance of being made by locals. Some highlights to keep in mind:



Handmade South American jewelry comes in unending variations, but look for handwoven bracelets, beaded necklaces or hand-stamped cuffs and rings. The metal work on some South American jewelry can look like hammered metal pieces, or stitched fabric pieces, depending on the region’s history and type of jewelry. The woven pieces will likely be vibrant and brightly colored, each thread woven with local traditions in mind.



Known for woven tapestries, handmade straw hats and intricate textiles made from looms and hand stitching, South America offers a bounty of textiles. Each piece has a story and deeper meaning than meets the eye, but you’re bound to find vibrantly-colored blankets woven with a rainbow of colors or intricate tablecloths and rugs all with geometric shapes and textures.


Pro tip: Look out for hand-woven bags and keep your family’s newfound treasures in one place while you walk along the market. It will be easier to keep track of purchases and a nice keepsake for the kids once back at home.


Unique Vessels

In a long list of traditional crafts found in this region, ceramic pottery may be the most prevalent. From water cups and vases to decorative pieces that look more like a sculpture than a bowl, South American ceramics are something to behold. These handmade ceramics go back to the near dawn of time in South America, and are often decorated with images and symbols conveying a different story or message. Just take extra special care while packing as these pieces are (usually) one-of-a-kind.


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