THE PILAGÁ COMMUNITY
From the shore of the Bañado de la Estrella, in Argentina, the Pilagá women extract the leaves of the Carandillo plant, transforming it into beautiful objects. In women’s organizations, the best artisans teach the youngest the art of weaving by transmitting ancient knowledge. This is how they achieve unique pieces.
The Pilagá women go to the watersheds, in groups of four and five women. That’s where they collect the leaves of Carandillo. They usually walk up to five kilometres, that's where the best leaves are found. They can collect up to a hundred leaves. The older women carry the leaves on their backs, while the younger ones carry them in their heads. Larger products take up to 120 of the best leaves.
Since the Carandillo plant is not cultivated, they only take part of it, leaving it capable of regenerating new leaves.
One of the secrets that the Pilagá women live by is going to fetch the leaves the days post full moon. They claim that the largest leaves are found in those days.
Daylight is crucial for the recollection of leaves. At night the roads become dangerous, since they can get hurt by wildlife. So the Pilagá womens' day starts very early, so they can take advantage of the sunlight.
After the leaves have been collected, they start shredding them. This process allows the leaves to be transformed into thin and soft fibres that will then be used as threads to weave the baskets. This process is carried out with needles. Once the unthreading has been achieved, they let the fibres rest out in the sun for a whole day in order for the threads to become whiter.
At last, they weave them together, bringing beautiful basketry to life.