El Pil-Pil Voqui en la cestería Lafkenche

The Pil-Pil Voqui at the Lafkenche basketry

Today we want to share with you the book "Collection of Pil-Pil Voqui Stems for Basketry. Story of a tradition originating from the Lafkenche people of Alepúe" ( Download here ) A deep and necessary investigation to promote an ecological and sustainable practice in traditional craft creation.

“It grows in the humidity, in the meadow, on the edge of the estuary... in the quila the voqui is something that sprouts, under the quilas, because I don't know if the quilas keep more humidity. Just like with maqui plants, voqui grows more there […]. Where there are big sticks, voqui grows, but it doesn't grow, you can see a little plant, but that's all there is left, I don't know if the land is very dry, voqui doesn't grow there."
(Artisan, Pasto Miel sector).

Written by 3 women 💪🏻, Juana Palma Martínez, Bastienne Schlegel Held and Catalina Mekis Rozas (who is also one of our favorite illustrators ) is an initiative of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) executed by the Forestry Institute (INFOR) and in collaboration with INDAP.

“My mother told me that when her father died, her mother was left alone with her eight children, and she was thinking about what she was going to do, how she was going to feed her children […] she approached an aunt of Don Apolinario Lienlaf, who told her that I was going to teach her how to work the pil pil so that she could go sell in Mehuín and earn money to support her children” (Artesana, Pasto Miel sector).

The topics covered address the entire process linked to the pil-pil voqui plant: Distribution and habitat, Description of the plant, Study territory, Socio-cultural context, Origin of basketry, Evolution of basketry, Transmission of tradition, Motivation and assessment, Work method, Collection, Pil-pil voqui collectors, Collection method, Collection care, Availability of the resource, Harvest season, Harvest performance, Raw material processing, Future challenges for basket weaving pil-pil voqui, Future of tradition, Sustainability of harvesting.

“From dad and mom, that's where I learned […], we all went out together, my dad took us. I remember that my mother made a piece of bread for each of us, we left at ten in the morning and sometimes we arrived at six or seven in the afternoon. The thing was to make a load […], between all twenty rolls […]. There we took advantage of playing the same way, suddenly it worked for us and suddenly it didn't” (Artesana, Pasto Miel sector).

Paulino Lienlaf Ancacura, Artisan from Alepúe, tells it in the first person: "As an artisan and heir of an ancestral art, such as traditional Mapuche basketry in voki pil-pil or püll püll foki (Boquila trifoliolata), it is a pleasure for me By presenting this work, the result of joint work between researchers and the current bearers of the ancestral knowledge of püll püll foki basketry, I am referring to the artisans of Alepúe. Alepúe, which translated from Mapuzugun means "place illuminated by the clarity of the moon", is a Mapuche community located on the coastal edge south of the commune of San José de la Mariquina, in the Los Ríos region. It is here, within the Lafkenche families of Alepúe, where kept alive the ancestral craft of basket weaving in püll püll foki, which has been transmitted from generation to generation from parents to children, playing a fundamental role in the transfer of Mapuche kimün knowledge from their own vision, establishing a relationship that has become synonymous with the identity and seal of the inhabitants of this place.

“When I started looking for voqui, what my mother told me was not to destroy the largest plant, always cut the strands that come from it […], because when you cut the voqui later it comes from the same strand […], but not uproot it [the largest plant] and I believe that all artisans do the same, because if we uproot the bush, we spoil it” (Artisan, Alepúe Playa sector)
Below I will explain in broad strokes the reason for this particular relationship between traditional püll püll foki basket weaving and the people of Aleppo. We will begin by saying that this art in Alepúe is as old as the very existence of the lof (community), the name of the first cultivators of this ancestral knowledge being lost in time, but where women played and currently play a fundamental role at the time. to pass on this knowledge, in this way each piece created also speaks of the roots of the people of Aleppo, their personal and collective stories, the maintenance of their traditions and at the same time their cultural dynamism.

“There are very few, me for example, one of my children is only enthusiastic about working in voqui pil-pil, the others are not. Because, they say no, very dangerous, which it isn't, and they went out and couldn't find it, and people have to know more or less where the voqui pil-pil is, and be determined to find it, because right here comes a person who arrives with lazy and can't find it, you have to walk a lot, but I get to a place and I know it exists, but I say that over the years it will be lost” (Artisan, Alepúe Centro sector).

This is how in traditional püll püll foki basket weaving, the type of weaving has been maintained, but not the process, which has varied over time. The same fate has befallen the products created, those that were once exclusively for domestic use, such as Chaiwe or Chunü. Today, tourism and the demand for ornamental objects have promoted the creation of new products, but always maintaining their essence. In this way, when observing and analyzing the various objects, we will see in them the artistic representation of the environment that surrounds them, emerging figures of trees, fish, chickens, deer, foxes, pigeons, etc., thus revealing the connection between the Mapuche and the natural and spiritual world of which it is part. "

We invite you to read the book in these times of quarantine 🤜🏻🦠and to support this beautiful tradition and all the families that support it by buying their products in our store 🤗

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