THE WICHÍ COMMUNITY
The Wichí women live in the Gran Chaco region. They weave the fibers of the chaguar plant, found in their surroundings.
From generation to generation they learn the different patterns and designs they create. Each piece is unique and special.
The Chaguar process
The Wichí women enjoy their peaceful walks around the Monte in search of chaguar. The term chaguar comes from the Quechua language; and in areas of Guarani influence, it is also known as Caraguatá. It is not cultivated, but grows in the wilderness. As the leaves have thorns, the plant is extracted with the help of a stick.
Once the plant is extracted, the Wichí women begin a five step process in order to prepare the chaguar to be, later on, woven:
Unthreading: Women Select the leaves and extract the thorny coverage.
Degumming: Women crush the fibres and then scrape the leaves to remove impurities.
Bleaching: The fibres are bleached and dried in the sun. The stronger the sun, the whiter the fibre.
Elaboration of the thread: Fibre by fibre, the treads are separated. Some are thicker than others. Over their legs, they twist the fibres, using ash to help them get a strong textured thread.
Dyeing: Women use the roots, fruits, barks and leaves of the native mountain of Gran Chaco to obtain diverse colours. The traditional colours are ochres, blacks and browns.
The design: The designs arise from the Wichí cultural universe: the animals of the Monte are often reproduced. As the Wichí community is hunter- gatherer, they establish an intimate relationship with the animals they hunt: identifying themselves with the prey's spirit. Some of the most common designs are the Suri’s loin, the Owl’s eye, Woodpecker’s chest or the Viper’s Skin. What they weave, they use in their daily lives: fruit bags, fishing nets and vests, among other things.