All images courtesy of Fundación Artesanías de Chile.
Fundación Artesanías de Chile (Crafts of Chile Charity) was set up in 2002 as part of the charities network of the Chilean Republic Presidency. Its mission is to preserve Chilean cultural identity and create opportunities for cultural and economic development for traditional artisans, understanding that craftsmanship is a productive activity that sustains many families, especially in rural locations. The artisans that make up the Artesanías de Chile network - more than 2,300 makers - are the centre of Chile's cultural heritage. Three quarters live in rural areas and nearly 60% are from native groups recognised by the Chilean state. They work with all kinds of traditional craft techniques, many textile-based.
Images: Traditional Wool-hair knot carpets from Chiloé Island (Black with flowers), Rosa Miranda, weaver.
Artesanías de Chile selected a range of textiles from the island of Chiloé to exhibit at the Selvedge World Fair 2020. Chiloé is an archipelago located in the south of Chile, in the northern area of Patagonia. For a long time the island lived in total isolation from the rest of Chile which caused the Chiloé people (called “chilotes”) to generate their own culture. Among all the aspects that distinguish Chiloé, crafts are very important. Crafts that have resulted from years of living in a rainy and cold climate, using what nature has to offer. Wood, vegetable fibres and wool were, for a long time, the materials that were used to build houses, make utensils, create tools and weave everything necessary to create shelter.
Image: Traditional blanket with brocado flowers, Rosa Miranda.
In the ‘Chilote’ houses, textiles were woven in 'kelgwos', as they call a large horizontal loom built in the home - usually in their living room - where they made rugs, ‘choapinos’, blankets, shawls, and sashes. Today, these tasks are maintained by very few women and are rarely passed down to new generations. But there is a type of textile that still persists: the Flower Blanket or ‘Brocado’ blanket from Chiloé. They are used in the beds between the sheets and their covers. This function has protected them from the rigours of time and has also kept them hidden, so they are almost unknown to all those who are not part of a traditional Chiloé family. They are large fabrics, richly adorned with flowers, birds and all kinds of figures, made with various textile techniques. The inheritance of this profession persists in a small group of artisans.Artesanías de Chile curated a selection of flower blankets and rugs to bring to the Selvedge World Fair. Visit their artisan store to buy from the collection.