Crafts: Half-Breed Brilliance

The forced fusion of cultures can sometimes produce brilliant offspring. A case in point is colonial Peru. After King Atahualpa was garroted by Francisco Pizarro in 1533, the Spanish conquistadors turned the Inca kingdom into a viceroyalty; some 16 million Indians were enslaved and converted at gunpoint. Indian artisans were appalled by the viceroy's cruelty, but they were thankful for the priests' ministrations. They embraced the conquerors' faith with fervor. They reared churches of baroque magnificence, carved passion figures of harrowing pathos. Delicately they embellished icons...