July 1, 2022

Since 2021, 40 women from the districts of Tirúa, Cañete, Contulmo and Lumaco have been part of the initiative that seeks to promote and value the work of Mapuche loom weavers.

Teresa Huaiquil, belonging to the Divulco community of Lumaco, has the loom in her earliest memories, when she saw how her mother worked the wool to create textile pieces. In those days she lived in a ruca with her family and helped her mother to work. “I learned to operate the loom as a child because my mother worked it and I watched her. When she skirted around a blanket or a large blanket, I had to be there helping her, weaving the ball,” says Teresa.

Thus, in the stories of the most experienced weavers, the memory appears of having learned from a very young age, illuminated by the stove of the ruca, the different tasks prior to weaving on the loom. This is how, with the help of grandmothers, mothers or relatives, they learned to produce different utilitarian pieces, such as chamal or dress, rebozo, belt, blankets, among other clothing. As a way of obtaining resources, the fabrics were also sold or exchanged for basic necessities in the nearest towns.

All that knowledge of the witral or Mapuche loom has endured thanks to the transfer of techniques from generation to generation; and it is precisely this common history, the one shared by the 40 women from Tirúa, Cañete, Contulmo and Lumaco, grouped in the Kuifi Kimün (ancestral wisdom) project. An initiative promoted by CMPC to promote this trade and value the work of the women who support this textile art.

At the Espacio Fibra Local in Temuco, the president of Empresas CMPC, Luis Felipe Gazitúa, led the launch ceremony of the Kuifi Kimün project, which will accompany women for four years and has Magdalena Le Blanc, a graduate in History and Aesthetics, as an adviser. and expert in contemporary textile art.

The president of the paper company valued the initiative and stressed that they are committed to the Kuifi Kimün project. “People are very important to us and it is also very important to us that this project is changing the lives of the women weavers who are showing their work, without losing the essence of ancestral wisdom. These types of initiatives are the ones that fill our souls, because one realizes that it is what produces the greatest impact, and the arrival of Kuifi Kimün at Fibra Local is an opportunity to make these trades visible and value this type of work”.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Lumaco, Richard Leonelli, valued the initiative that benefits women weavers in his commune and commented that “in the communes of the Araucanía region, and specifically in Lumaco, we know that today work is very scarce for people. Around 800 families have been left without work in our commune and that the capacities of each of the lamngen that are participating here today can be strengthened, through this project, obviously helps the family economy, which is very important”.

Overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic and its different phases, the Kuifi Kimün project began in June 2021, promoted by CMPC to generate marketing opportunities for natural fiber textile articles with a seal of quality and innovation, attributes that month Every month the contemporary textile expert Magdalena Le Blanc works. “My support has consisted of guiding them in the use of good quality raw materials, which is very important. There are many details that are very relevant to implement, in the presentation and the information that is delivered; and it is also essential to achieve a product that has a design and is in line with current demand; and that serves not only to show culture, but also in utilitarian terms”, highlighted the expert in contemporary textiles.

Weavers of the coast and the Nahuelbuta mountain range

The Kuifi Kimün initiative also seeks that the women of Tirúa, Cañete, Contulmo and Lumaco work in an associative manner and deliver quality products, in order to open new markets and positively impact their quality of life.

The weaver Sara Leviqueo appreciated the initiative and explained that “the Kuifi Kimün project is important because one never stops learning, every day you learn something new, and especially in the case of textiles. With this project I have learned to define things, to make good finishes, to get used to the measurements, and that is something that one, in crafts, generally does not do, and with this project, yes”.

For her part, the weaver Yesenia Antío assured that “participating in this project has been great, since we are seeing our culture, we are strengthening it every day and obviously in one way or another financially it is helping us a lot in the sector. I learned to weave when I was ten years old, because I helped my grandmother, so it is wonderful to continue with this and that it continues to grow, that people and our country can recognize our work.”

The group has developed a series of textile articles for contemporary use, such as rugs, runners, footboards, table runners, and scarves. The 2022 “Ancestral Wisdom” collection can be purchased at Espacio Fibra Local, Arturo Prat 427 in Temuco, or through the website fibralocal.cl