Nicaraguans’ skillful hands and artistic imagination to produce fascinating crafts from the pre-Columbian era have been passed from generation to generation. One of the most representative beautiful crafts of Nicaragua are its colorful hammocks. They are produced in different sizes and colors and are made using high quality cotton. Nicaraguan hammocks have also found a place beyond the borders of the country, since they are now exported to different parts of the world. Former Pope John Paul II on his second visit to Nicaragua in 1996 received as a present a beautiful hammock from the Nicaraguan people.
Definitely there is a tradition for high quality wood work in Nicaragua. It is undoubtedly perceived in old colonial churches through their images, altars, benches, pillars as well as private residential homes. Nicaragua’s preservation and intelligent environmental use of tropical forests provides precious timber such as mahogany, cedar, walnut, rosewood, and other valuable assortments. Almost each town in the country but especially Masatepe, one hour north of Granada, specializes in having and manufacturing wonderful furniture. Numerous carpenter shops located along the road will reveal the talent of these people making high quality comfortable rocking chairs, dressers, tables, baby cradles, and other useful furniture for homes.
The small charming community of San Juan de Oriente belongs to “Los Pueblos Blancos” (White Towns) where local clay is amazingly shaped into beautifully decorated ceramic plates, pots, vessels, and other many unique designs. This wonderful work has been traditionally done since pre-Columbian times. Today these quality products have found a demand in the international market. In 1998 the local artisan from San Juan de Oriente, Elio Gutierrez won an International prize from UNESCO with the masterpiece “the Fishman”.
Leather items are also made and a wide variety of products are designed such as purses, wallets, belts, shoes, cases, and hats. Some stones like “Marmolina” or “Soap stone”, coming from the northern region of San Juan de Limay, are carved and transformed into decorative pieces of art. The artisans will make figures of women, birds, elephants, fish, and other free style sculptures. A women cooperative from the northern region of Jalapa creates some gorgeous bread baskets as well as plate and glass mats made out of pine fiber.
Beautiful “Guayaberas”, embroidered men’s formal shirts, are also made in Masaya, Granada and Managua. Other types of traditional clothes are also designed such as T-shirts, colorful dresses, and especially children’s clothes.
Most of these handcraft products are found in the local markets of Roberto Huembes in Managua, and also at the old market of Masaya.