The Puerto Rican Cultural Artform: Artesania

Puerto Rican Cultural Artform

In addition to traveling to Puerto Rico to enjoy our warm beaches, our beautiful scenery and tourist destinations, it is an absolute must to get acquainted with our artesanía.

The history of our artistic expression will mesmerize you, and of course, you will not want to leave the island without taking a special piece with you.

Take home a piece of Puerto Rico

By buying local crafts, you obtain a tiny piece of our country, history and culture. Artesanías are works of art mostly made by hand, and created by Puerto Rican artists, or as we say, artistas del patio (locals). There is something for all tastes and budgets.

Artesanía is a term that encompasses a wide variety of artworks, and may include:  

  • Small shot glasses made of the inner bark of our exquisite coconut
  • Wooden mortars where our delicious mofongo is made and served
  • Beautiful lace dresses worked in a technique known as mundillo (Hand Bobbin Lace)
  • Stunning piecees of furniture carved in local wood to decorate any room in your home or office.

Puerto Rican Cultural Artform

“These are cultural elements of a people that are preserved in each piece and material used. They document our traditions, and let the buyer know our ways in Puerto Rico,” Jorge David Capiello, director of cultural and folk art promotion of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.

What to look for

Elements like our flag, the Taíno Sun, the Puerto Rican coquí or the famous Garita at Fort San Felipe del Morro are very common themes in the craftworks. Masks, especially those of vejigantes, are pieces that you will surely love for their rich colors, and the joyfulness of our Caribbean rhythms. The list is extensive. You will also find pieces made of bamboo, leather, paper, weaving in fibers, and much more. You just need to add to your itinerary of activities an allotted time to get acquainted with them, and in the process, you will decide which one to buy for yourself or someone special.

Puerto Rican Cultural Artform

“There are all sorts of things. Many of them are objects that tourists can use daily, by wearing them or by using them to accentuate some corner in their home. These are works of art that speak of our culture, but they are also reinterpretations of talented artists who give free rein to their creative expression.” – Jorge David Capiello

A rich legacy

Puerto Rican Cultural ArtformThere are entire families that for generations have dedicated themselves to this fine art. To mention a few, the Alindato family in the city of Ponce, the largest municipality in the southern part of the island, which produces the masks. The Villalobos family in Ciales, a town in the interior part of the country where the green central mountain range crosses, is devoted to working on traditional wooden furniture. Also, the well-known Cepeda family in the capital of San Juan, recognized for its contribution to the preservation of our folk music the bomba and plena, puts artisans in charge of making genuine instruments characteristic of these genres, such as tambourines and barrels.

Accessible island-wide and year round

  • Whatever the season or day of the year you arrive at our shores, there will always be places where you can buy them.
  • Usually, in some town a cultural event is taking place, and handcrafts are the protagonists.
  • There are also fixed sites where you can buy them, such as in the largest mall in the country, Plaza las Américas in San Juan. There, you will find the Paseo Ricardo Alegría where certified artisans permanently exhibit and sell their artwork. You might even see artesanos at work.
  • Also in Old San Juan, the oldest and most historic part of the country, you find the craft shops Mundo Taíno and Galería Artesanal. So, while you enjoy our walled city, you can buy authentic Puerto Rican crafts.

Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment, and island of cultural art!


Image Credits:

  • Taller Yagrumo
  • Metro PR
  • Noticias Sur PR