Puerto Rican culture is a unique blend of Taíno Indian, Spanish and African influences.
During the past centuries, these elements have come together to create a Puerto Rican heritage that has delighted America and the world with its sights, sounds, tastes and traditions.
Examples of Puerto Rican artistic expression can be found as far back as pre-Columbian artifacts. Today, the Puerto Rico Art Museum in San Juan and The Ponce Museum of Art are the greatest repositories of Puerto Rican arts and crafts on the island.
Puerto Rican artists represented in the Ponce Art Museum include José Campeche (1751-1809) and Francisco Oller (1833-1917). Campeche was the first major Puerto Rican artist of note. He painted in the style of contemporary Spanish artists but with an eye toward Puerto Rican subjects including churches, governors, local personalities and members of prominent families.
Other indigenous Puerto Rican art includes the santos, carved religious figures that have been produced since the 1500’s. Craftspeople who make these are called santeros; they carve figurines representing saints, usually from 8 to 20 inches tall, using clay, gold, stone or cedar wood. Masks worn at island carnivals are also most well known Puerto Rican crafts. At carnival time, they are worn by costumed revelers called vejigantes.
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