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Shop Till You Drop: National Artisan Market – Masaya, Nicaragua

A day trip to the National Artisan Market in Masaya is an excursion I always enjoy, especially when it’s with friends and family who are visiting.

Mercado

– The building for the National Artisans Market in Masaya covers an entire city block.

With it’s attractive booths, large breezy walkways and high quality handicrafts this market is Nicaragua’s most famous. It’s located just an hour from the International airport in Managua and is known for having the highest quality handicrafts in the country.

Many vendors speak English and almost all are willing to negotiate on their prices.  

Some of the more standout pieces found at Mercado Artesanias in Masaya are as follows:

Hammocks
The hammock is Nicaragua’s signature craft found.  Hammocks range in price from $10 – $20 for the simple ones and $30 – $60 for the nicer ones.  The density of the weave and quality of materials help determine the hammocks quality.

The Old Market

– The hammocks shown in this photo take 2 – 3 days to assemble.

Gord recently purchased an extra large hammock chair made with cotton-poly fabric and cedar.  After a bit of bargaining the price was $21.

Hammocks

Baskets
Very unique and unlike anything I’ve ever seen in all the countries I’ve visited I love the baskets shown below.

These baskets are made with bundles of wrapped pine needles that are bound in long coils. They come in various shapes and sizes.  My favorite ones are those accented with bright colorful thread.  

When my Mom was visiting in May she purchased a large basket. Without any negotiation she paid $25.

A Basket with Blue

Primitive Paintings
Some Nicaraguan paintings tend to be a little too primitive for my liking, but if you take the time to look around for that perfect piece you’ll most likely find it. 

Primitive Art

– Smaller pieces start at as little as $5.

– Larger pieces average between $50 – $75.

Pottery
From vases, to urns, to bowls if you can’t find a piece of pottery you like at the market in Masaya, you probably won’t be able able to find it anywhere in the country.  

Prices for pottery start at as little as $2 and go up as high as $40 – $50, depending on the amount of detail and the size of the piece.

– To avoid disappointment when you get home you may want to transport these pieces in your carry-on.

Exotic Wood Crafts
It’s important to choose wooden pieces carefully, keeping in mind the type of climate you will be taking your piece back to.  Mahogany is best and less likely to crack in dryer areas. 

The average price for a nice medium size piece – whether it be a bowl or vase – is about $20.

– A spectacular piece may warrant a spectacular price tag.

A couple of other items worth checking out at the market include soapstone carvings and leatherwork. 

And like other artisan markets around the world there is no shortage of trinkets to be found. Keychains, wooden boxes, maracas and slingshots – they have it all!

– A typical trinket shop

A few hours spent at the market in Masaya is always a fun experience and one that I think I will never tire of. 

I look forward to the day when I have a Nicaraguan home of my own so I can decorate it with some of these beautiful works of art.

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