Ñocha Malen is a group of basketry artisans from a small rural town called Huentelolén in the south of Chile. Ñocha is formed by 15 Mapuche women who learnt their technique from their ancestors. This group of women lives from this basketry and from the countryside life. They worked together since 2012
Ñochas oversee the whole production process. It starts cultivating and harvesting the fibre (a plant called Ñocha that naturally grows up in the mountains but they built shady roofs and managed to cultivate the fibre in their gardens); after they have to treat the plant with a “lejía” (they boiled it in a pot on the fire with a liquid mix called “lejía” consisting in water and ashes to make the leaves clears, malleable and durable); when this is step is ready they hang the leaves for 2 or 3 days for them to dry. After this, they can start knitting. The construction technique of this basketry is the "aduja" or spiral, a circle is made in the shape of a button and then the white straw is sewn and covered with a strip of ñocha. On a log, the “aduja” fabric is pounded with a hammer to make it flat and perfect. They work commonly near a firewood cooker in their houses but once a week they meet and work together in their studio.
Ñocha malén products are all based on the Mapuche basketry tradition, some of them are totally traditional and others have some innovation added. The most of the time they use the natural colour of the fibre and sometimes they add some touch of colours with dyed leaves. Some are for decoration Some are decorations and others are utilitarian objects such as murals, tablecloths, lamps, baskets, bread baskets, among others.
To follow the story of Ñocha Malen, please find them on social media here.