One World Projects – Gourd Ornaments

Fair trade importer of Christmas ornaments supports artisans from Peru.

One World Projects is a fair trade importer and distributor that imports handmade Christmas ornaments from over 100 artisan groups in more than 25 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Established in 1992, OWP helps to provide viable economic alternatives for artisans and their families while addressing pressing global issues. The company works with artists to create holiday ornaments such as the gourd ornaments produced in Peru.

Gourds are closely related to pumpkins, squash and cucumbers, and are a variety of shapes and sizes. They make a wonderful canvas for creating beautiful ornaments. Historically, the people of the Andes used gourds for storing food and for drinking chicha and yerba mata. The tradition of carving and burning detailed designs into the gourds to illustrate aspects of their culture dates back more than 3000 years and the designs of the ornaments reflect these centuries of workmanship.

Gourd vessels were elaborately etched with scenes that told stories – the latest news or ancient legends. The decorated vessels were used locally but also to carry messages between regions. Now, the only area where this tradition survives is in the twin villages of Cocha Chicas and Cochas Grandes, a short drive from the city of Huancayo. Today, the Peruvian gourd ornaments are an excellent natural and sustainable way to decorate your Christmas tree and home with holiday ornaments.

Gourds are grown in a variety of sizes, so ornaments artisans usually contract with growers for a certain approximate size in the October sowing season. The gourds are ready to be worked into ornaments the following June. Before being made into ornaments, the gourds are smooth on the outside and velvety on the inside. The sun-dried gourd is trimmed and washed, readying it for ornament decoration.

The ornamental decorations are carved, etched and burned into the gourd. Sometimes, they are only burned or “toasted”, making a design with softer edges than those with carved or etched designs. After a gourd is decorated, it is washed again, and then dried further in a kiln or over a flame. Sometimes a gourd ornament is further decorated by being rewashed and finished.

These fairly traded gourd ornaments support Peruvian artisans and can make a social and environmental statement in your household. See these handcrafted ornaments and more ethnic ornaments on

Article and images used with permission from

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