Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu: Folk Tales and Stories of Inca Life


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An intimate look at the intriguing and environmentally attuned Inca people in the high Andean villages near Machu Picchu and Cusco comes to life in Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu: Folk Tales and Stories of Inca Life.

Written by Elizabeth Conrad VanBuskirk and featuring paintings by Inca artist, Angel Callañaupa Alvarez, this collection vibrantly depicts Andean village life through folk tales, stories and art. The subject matter brings forth Inca rituals and beliefs about the living earth (Pacha Mama), the majestic mountains worshipped as Apus, the sky and its “black constellations,” the meanings attached to sacred water, the events of nature and ever-changing climate, the stages of life and growth, courage and transformation.

The book is written for both adults and children, introducing an in-depth look into South American Native People, their customs, everyday lives, incidents of change, and profound appreciation and celebration of the natural world. The paintings and stories provide a rare glimpse into Inca peoples’ creative work, especially the famous Andean practice of weaving and other textile arts.

“The primary intent of Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu: Folks Tales and Stories of Inca Life is to introduce readers to a deep culture overlooked in the education of most of us, and to provide new ways of looking at our world. I hope to deepen the experience of the many travelers who visit Machu Picchu and Cusco, by vicariously placing them inside Inca villages to experience life in the high-elevations of the mountains,” said author Elizabeth Conrad VanBuskirk. “I have included authentic and little-known Inca traditions and hope that readers will feel enlightened by tales and stories like The Gift of Quinoa, The Bear Prince, The First Haircutting and respond with delight in Angel’s stunning art.”



Elizabeth Conrad VanBuskirk is a writer from Charlotte, Vermont who has won the Barbara Karlin grant award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for her story about a modern Inca girl’s struggles to let change into her life.  She studied the art and archaeology of Peru, of Mesoamerica, as well as Native American textiles of North and South American at the Radcliffe Institute and holds a degree from Wheaton College in Norton, MA.

At the University of Vermont, VanBuskirk co-taught courses on Inca history and culture for teachers at the University’s College of Education. She served as guest curator of the exhibition, Weaving the Patterns of the Land at the University of Vermont’s Robert Hull Fleming Museum.

One of the author’s major accomplishments was that she and her husband, David VanBuskirk supported the talented Inca weaver Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez to found The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. The couple chose a United States Board of Directors and served as co-chairs for ten years while working to help Nilda in her intense work of saving the thousands-of-years-old Peruvian textile traditions from extinction.

VanBuskirk’s work as a fiber artist has been shown in exhibitions around the country. She was selected as one of seventeen national fiber artists to present a selection of her work in a museum-wide exhibition at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA. Currently she lives Charlotte, Vermont.

Angel Callañaupa Alvarez was inspired as a child by viewing the historic paintings in the church of his home community, Chinchero, Peru.  He won his first prize for painting at the age of eight, and took first prize in art at his secondary school, Inca Garcilaso de la Varga. In 1970, he created landscape paintings for Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie, which was being filmed in Chinchero. In 1992, his paintings were awarded a prize in the exhibition commemorating 500 years since the discovery of Peru by Europeans.Angel’s paintings are inspired by history, tradition, legends, superstitions, and the Andean vision of the cosmos. In all his work, he shows his respect for Mother Earth and the great Mountain Apus.



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8.5" x 9", 114 pages, 86 color illustrations done specifically for this book

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