Home Institution

Belmont University

Publication Date

Fall 2007

Program Name

Chile: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


Every culture boasts craftsmanship that reflects the philosophies, passions, interests, needs, and stories of its people. Such craftsmanship not only represents a culture, but also embodies many facets of the collective identity of that culture. In the case of the Mapuche, traditional craftsmanship holds an important place in their history as a people and the preservation of their culture in the modern world. However, the primary reason that artisans today continue to make their goods is the income it brings to their families. The problem that arises is that an artisan’s handmade goods cannot compete with the cheap, mass-produced products that globalization has brought to the Chilean market today--the result of which has been miserably undervalued prices for work that takes much time, skill, and experience to make. Furthermore, much of the understanding of the history and significance of traditional craftsmanship to the Mapuche culture has been slowly fading over the years. Such a loss makes it very difficult for the artisans to understand the full value of their work and thereby seek just prices.

To gain a more authentic perspective of Mapuche craftsmanship, I spent several weeks focusing on one aspect of traditional Mapuche art: weaving. Working side by side with a Mapuche woman, I learned the entire process of making a manta--from washing the wool to weaving traditional designs--in order to grasp more fully the cultural significance and the economic reality of weaving today. This paper seeks to explain the cultural and historical significance of weaving to the Mapuche people, document the process of preparing and weaving the yarn, and explore in greater depth the challenges that this ancestral art faces in today’s economy.


Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Latin American Studies


Article Location