There is not much to do in Tigua. Many deserted the village over the last decades and the ones remaining are living of agriculture. But Tigua, pitoresque village of the Quilotoa Loop, made it to the international scene thanks to its art.
Today the main attraction of the village is its 3 galleries selling traditionnal “Tigua paintings”.
Indigenous artists express on sheep skin canvas traditionnal stories and daily life of the Quilotoa area. Indigenous cultivating the edges of the volcano, llamas pasturing, condor flying over snow-capped summits, they capture in vibrant colors the atmosphere of Andean rural life.
The legend of the condor and the girl
In the Quilotoa area, the legends talks about a lonely condor who fall in love with a girl who gazing her sheeps. Dressed up in a poncho to appear more beautiful, the condor appeared to the girl, you fall in love with him as well. He took her on his back and together they flew over the Andes: Cotopaxi, Quilotoa and the Illinizas. As the girl didn´t return home that night, the village hunted for her up to the condor´s nest and managed to bring her back home. But the girl, now locked down at home, managed to send a message to her lover. He rescued her and took her away in the high Andes. When her family finally find her, they had to accept their love, as the girl had transformed in a beautiful female condor.
This legend is an important myth of the quechua culture, and along with scenes of the indigenous daily life, is among the most painted themes for Tigua artists.
80km and 5 days of hike to buy art
Tigua paintings have a unique design and have been recognized by art connaisseurs. But we mainly choose to buy one because they are full of live and would be a great memory of our Ecuadorian adventure. After 5 days of hike around the stunning Quilotoa crater, this was our last stop before heading back to civilization. After visiting the different galleries, we decided ourselves on one of Julio´s paintings, a beautiful sunset scene of Quilotoa. In true backpackers, we tried to negotiate the price. It was not easy.
“That´s ok, because I don´t want you to leave without art” he finally answered, concluding the sale. The artist is selling himself his paintings, along with the ones of his son and daughter and because of his simplicity, you may not realize you are meeting a legend. Julio Iquioza was actually the initiator of the tigua movement, and taught his neighbors and family how to paint. Thanks to him, the Tigua style has been spreading but to our eyes, the master´s paintings seems to have kept a special soul. And who knows… maybe we just made our first steps in the art market.
Make it happen – A day in Tigua
How to get there: Buses to Tigua run from Latacunga (1h) and Quilotoa. Otherwise, you can always hitchhike local pick-ups 😉
Where to stay: In Tigua, make sure you book your stay at La Posada. The hacienda has existed for more than 130 years and is run today by the 5th generation. Cows, horses, lamas, you will recognize it from far. The place remained rustic: no TV, no internet and a really old juke box playing classic spanish ballads. But, hot water for your shower and fantastic service! What also makes La Posada so special is that everything that you will eat there is made here (milk, yogurt, dulce de leche..), and you can fill-in your bottle with the fresh water of the mountain. A bed in the small dorm will cost you $25, breakfast and dinner included.