The Wichí live in the Gran Chaco. We always weave the fibers of the chaguar, a plant that grows in a native way in our mountain. From generation to generation we learn the different points and designs that we create, although each piece is unique and special for us. We weave what we use in our daily lives: fruit bags, fishing nets or vests. Today also other objects that help us to show our art, our culture.
Wichí women like colors. They are soft and elegant. They walk on the Monte slowly but without pause. The Wichí possess ancestral techniques in knits. They weave using fibers obtained from the Chaguar, a bromeliad typical of the great Chaco ecosystem . The most used species is Hyeronimi, Chutsaj in the wichí language.
With the threads obtained after a long and hard process, the Wichí in the past wove the vests for the war, the Nets to fish and the yicas (bags) to collect wild fruits. Today they make handicrafts that begin to be recognized and valued all over the world.
The term chaguar is of the Quechua language; And in areas where Guarani has influence, it is also known as Caraguatá.
It is a plant that is located in the Semiarid Chaco of the provinces of Salta, Formosa and Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay and Bolivia, whose resistant fiber is used since time immemorial the Wichí, a nation of hunters-gatherers, to Make domestic objects such as handbags, ponchos, clothes, nets, ropes, and for their subsistence activities.
It is not cultivated; It grows in the half-shadow of the middle stratum of Chaco Forests, and is reproduced by runners.
The process to obtain fibers from the Chaguar takes stages:
Collection: The women travel the Monte looking for Chaguar. As the leaves have thorns, they take the plant with a stick.
Defibering: Women Select the leaves and extract the thorny coverage.
Degumming: women hit the fibers and then scrape the leaves to remove impurities.
Bleach: rinse clean fibers and dry them in the sun. The stronger the sun, the whiter the fiber is.
Elaboration of the Piola: the artisans separate fiber by fiber, which are of different thicknesses. Then they twist them over their legs using ash to help them get a strong textured thread.
Dyeing: Use the roots, fruits, barks and leaves of the native mountain of Gran Chaco to obtain colors. The traditional colours are ochres, black and brown.
The design: The designs arise from the Wichí cultural universe , a hunter-gatherer seminomad gruop that has always lived in the Monte following the rhythms of nature. The animals of the Monte are reproduced, with which the Hunter establishes an intimate relationship: He even comes to identify himself with the spirit of the prey. Some of the most used are Suri’s loin, owl’s eye, Woodpecker’s chest, or Viper’s leather.