March 18, 2022 #ChileDiverse

10 handcrafted pieces to discover Chile from north to south

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From north to south, Chilean handicrafts speak of our people, their talent, traditions and territory. In conjunction with Fundación Artesanías de Chile -which works with a network of almost three thousand artisans throughout the country, from whom it buys and sells its art under the principles of Fair Trade-, we present 10 pieces of traditional Chilean handicrafts, made by artisans who keep alive this cultural heritage of the country.

Aymara Chuspa

In Chile, the Aymara people live mainly in the regions of Arica and Parinacota, and Tarapacá. Heirs of pre-Hispanic knowledge, of those who lived in Andean territories since pre-Columbian times, their traditional textiles are defined by their very neat weavings, made with few and simple tools. Their technique and style are developed following a careful process that starts with the selection of alpaca fleece, animals raised by the artisan families themselves. After selecting the fiber, they spin it meticulously and give way to tradition: they weave on backstrap looms or four-stakes looms (pre-Hispanic tools). The textiles are the canvas where they capture elements of their identity and are mainly made of camelid fiber, which the craftswomen weave in different types of looms, classified according to their size. They make traditional pieces such as sashes, chuspas (in the photo), talegas and llijllas.

Combarbalá stone carving

In the town of Combarbalá, in the province of Limarí, Coquimbo Region, artisans work a hard stone, unique in the world, which they extract no more than ten meters below ground, among a mixture of minerals known as combarbalita. Almost all of them have different tones, and with it they make covers, figurative pieces of the flora and fauna of the area and utilitarian pieces such as bowls and vases.

Arpilleristas

Burlap emerged as a craft in Chile in the 1970s, in response to the need of many women to earn income to support their families due to the vulnerability generated by the dictatorship. It developed mainly in urban areas such as Santiago, the capital. This craft, which consists of scraps of fabric joined through embroidery, became a way to express their stories, dreams and social demands.

Talagante Ceramics

The polychrome pottery of Talagante, a rural town located in the Metropolitan Region, is a local tradition that was born during colonial times by the nuns of the convent of the Claras Nuns, who were responsible for transmitting this popular expression to the community for six generations, portraying in brightly painted clay characters from the popular and religious culture of Chile at that time.

Horsehair Basketry

Rari is a rural town located in the foothills of the Maule Region, in central Chile, where women have been learning the craft of horsehair micro-weaving since they were children: weaving miniatures by hand using the hair of the horse's tail as raw material. They usually represent their rural environment: flowers, butterflies, insects. The use of the pieces is usually ornamental.

Quinchamalí Ceramics

The pottery of Quinchamalí, a town located in the Ñuble Region, in south-central Chile, is known for its black clay, a color that the artisans achieve in the burning process, which is first done in a fire with ox guano and then in horse guano. The pieces are decorated in low relief, made by the artisans with a needle and then painted with white earth that they get in the same area.

Chemamüll

The chemamüll -wooden people in Mapudungun- are large sculptures carved in a piece of wood, a trunk, by Mapuche artisans. And they correspond to reproductions in small format of the statues that were formerly placed on the tombs in the Mapuche cemeteries. Their purpose was to reflect in them the spirit of those who were buried there and to accompany them on their journey to the afterlife.

Trarikamakuñ

The design of the Manta Cacique or Trarikamakuñ is achieved by tightly tying areas of the warp (Bromelia sphacelata) creating a zigzag design. The areas reserved with ties prevent the pigment from entering at the time of dyeing, leaving white and colored areas. The craftswomen reassemble the dyed warps with the trarikan design and weave the blanket with the weaving technique.

Pilwas of Puerto Saavedra

For hundreds of years the Mapuche Lafquenche people of Puerto Saavedra and the coastal town of Budi, in the Araucanía Region, have been weaving pilwas (mapudungun for bag), mainly to transport food. They are woven by men and women from chupón fiber, a native plant that they clean, dry and twist until they obtain a resistant rope with which they weave pilwas of various sizes and shapes.

Chiloé Basketry

The quilineja is one of the most prized vegetable fibers by the artisans of Chiloé. To obtain it, they go deep into the forest until they find it tangled in the trees. Through a ritual they ask the spirits for permission to extract it, always taking with them a clove of garlic to scare away the Trauco, a creature of Chiloé mythology. They weave baskets and brooms with the quilineja that they obtain on these long walks through dense trails.

To learn more about Chilean handicrafts visit Artesanías de Chile.

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