The Juan Quintuman community is home to the Mapuche Magical Beings Workshop. Our group of six women makes finely detailed dolls. These dolls convey the rich Mapuche culture, each requiring three days of meticulous handiwork to perfect. They are created through a combination of techniques such as weaving, knitting, and painting. They are adorned with traditional and modern Mapuche clothing and accessories. Our group deliberately sources our materials from our surrounding area to support our local community.
Our workshop was founded on March 5, 2012 with the help of FOSIS (Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversión Social), Huilo Huilo Foundation (FHH), and the Lago Neltume Health Center. FOSIS is an organization that grants support to communities in an effort to reduce inequality. The Huilo Huilo Foundation has especially contributed to our workshop by providing us with transportation services to and from our meeting places. This is extremely helpful due to the spread-out nature of our community. It has eliminated countless hours of travel time.
Mapuche women, throughout history, have had to overcome numerous hardships throughout their lives. This workshop has allowed us the opportunity to gain more social and financial independence. We have been empowered to use our incomes to support important aspects of our lives, such as supporting our families. The workshop allows us to work from home and be present throughout our children’s development, along with granting us the ability to continue providing for our children’s future by sending them to secondary education and college.
The traditional and modern designs of our dolls show the evolution of Mapuche culture, reflecting the social changes that have occurred within our families. The participation of our family members has grown significantly over the years. For example, our husbands have become more receptive, and have even begun volunteering their time to acquire some of the raw materials necessary to make our workshop successful. With their help, we can spend more time focusing on perfecting our techniques, which take a minimum of two years to learn. Not only have our families become closer, but we have also been able to establish tight-knit friendships amongst the members of our group.
Our designs convey a variety of occupations and activities. We make 11 female designs and four male designs of various sizes, which are equally available at our sales sites. Among the female dolls we include the “Blue Woman”. This doll exemplifies the assistant to the Machi, the top priestess in the Mapuche ceremony of Nguillatun. Other characters represent the collector of herbs, as well as the water carries. Every doll employs a unique combination of artistic processes including weaving, sewing, tying, printing, woodwork, metalwork, wool processing, dying, knitting, and embroidery. We also make sure to incorporate wood, metal, string, and natural materials from the nearby forest. At the end of a series of steps, dolls have traditional clothing along with an array of jewelry, bags, instruments, tools, and baskets. Our members oversee every step of the manufacturing process, from shearing of sheep for wool to knitting the fine details of traditional Mapuche clothing.