Tejido en paja de trigo: la herencia de un padre

Wheat straw weaving: the inheritance of a father

In this Father's Month we want to honor all artisan fathers, those who have sacrificed to provide the best for their family and those who learned the trade of their life from their father.
This is the case of Ismael Palma, a Chupallero artisan from the town of Ninhue, who learned this noble work as an inheritance from his father: Plácido Palma.

Ismael became interested in braiding wheat straw from a very young age, at the age of 8 he was already making his first braids, which although they did not look very good, his mother put them to good use:
“In those years there were no shavings or sponges, so we made braids and since they didn't look very good, my mother used them to wash the pots”

Ismael's father learned from his uncles and then worked his entire life making chupallas. Currently, most of the family is involved in this beautiful tradition. And the area where they were born is the best for planting this specific wheat, which is different from that used to obtain grain.

At the age of twelve, driven by curiosity, he began sneaking into the workshop at lunchtime, when the adults were not there, to test the machine and make his first seams. There was a time in his youth when he walked away from this job because of how sacrificial it is, but he returned to it at the age of 28 and since then it has not been in his plans to do anything else.

The making of a chuck has many stages. Planting is done at the beginning of May, when the first rains fall and it is harvested by hand in December.
Once the cane is separated from the spike, the “de-pittoning” is carried out, which consists of separating the useful part of the cane from that which has knots. Then the ladies separate all the reeds by gauge, since if this is not done, there will be no even braids.
There are extra fine, fine, semi-fine, thick fibers and an even thicker one, with which chucks are made for children who have activities at school, since it is the lowest cost.
“To make an extra-fine Chupalla you need approximately 180 meters of braid. This is soaked to make it softer and it begins to be braided. Then the braid is passed through a roller to make it flatter and taken to the machine to shape the chupalla. Then you have to glue it, iron it and apply a natural lacquer, iron it again and add the morocco and the decorative ribbon that goes on the outside.”

The future of this trade is uncertain, when Ismael left there were about 150 artisans, of which at least 50 remain, in addition, the young people do not show much interest in learning to work straw. However, the diversity of products currently made with the technique has grown and it is possible to find individual cases, wallets, purses, capes, vegetable boxes, among others. Items that we use every day and that will allow artisans like Ismael to work for many more years.

Find products created by Ismael here.

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