Wood carving is an important source of income who find a steady source of income in the tourist market. These examples are of particular interest as they are carved by Antonio, a carver who suffered from leprosy, and therefore accomplished this with damaged fingers. (See wood carver.) His pieces are modelled on real animals, and most are represented quite accurately. The wood used is "Huito" (Genipa americana), a hardwood that is abundant and fast-growing and therefore not over-exploited like woods such as mahogany, teak, rosewood and others. Antonio lives in San Pablo, a small town in Peru about 60 miles from the Colombian border.
The toucan is perhaps the quintessential Amazon bird, and is hence popular among tourists and artists alike. About half of Antonio's pieces are painted. The others are laquered or remain unfinished. This species represents the white-throated toucan, the plumage of which is fairly close to real life although the carver has taken some artistic license with the color of the bill! (For a photo of this species see toucans.)
This carving is a good example of Antonio's skill. It is accurately proportioned, and most of the caiman's distinguishing features are present. Note the curving tail and open mouth. When you think this was done by someone with badly damaged fingers, the level of accomplishment is quite astonishing. (For a photo of this species see spectacled caiman.)
Here is another carving that showcases Antonio's remarkable talent. Note the fluid curve of the body and the detail in the scales, every one of which seems to have been included. The pirarucu is important in the lives of local people, being the largest freshwater fish and widely hunted for food. (For a photo of this species see pirarucu.)