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Welcome

To the itinerant cultural exhibition

SWITZERLAND 2022-2023

The Kawésqar People Foundation invites you to live from this moment, the digital experience that accompanies the representative elements of the Kawésqar Culture and Heritage that you have in front of you.

1

Basketry

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The artisans who keep basketry alive are considered ambassadors of the ancestral Kawésqar culture, since this art was transmitted for thousands of years, generation after generation, to reach our days thanks to orality and traditional use that the canoe nomads gave to these refined and light pieces of rush plant.

The process begins with the collection, which requires extensive knowledge of the geography and habitat where the vegetable fiber known as junquillo (Marsippospermum grandiflorum) rush plant, or as it is called in the Kawésqar language: C'apás.

The Kawésqar territory, also known as western Patagonia; the most rugged, archipelagic and inhospitable corner of Chile, is mostly covered with forests, glaciers and also peat bogs. This last ecosystem is considered today a large freshwater reservoir, with threatened vegetation and a huge concentration of CO2 captured in its Sphagnum moss forests. For the Kawésqar these environments have always been their terrestrial gathering space, both for medicinal plants and edible fruits and the most important raw materials for daily subsistence, both on land and for their life in the sea.

The rush plant, which comes from peat bogs, is therefore one of the best raw materials produced by the hands of women and men dedicated to basketry, formerly as a subsistence art and finally, after its adaptation to the Western world, they maintain it live as collectibles, decoration or design objects.

The objects in front of you were carefully made by prominent Kawésqar artisans from Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas in the last three years, and are exhibited to make visible the intangible heritage of the Kawésqar culture. Thank you for helping us value and share this experience, testimony of a living people.

MARIA EUGENIA GUENUMAN
CELINA LLANLLÁN
CAROLINA QUINTUL
MARITZA SOTO
MARÍA INÉS ÁLVAREZ
FELICIA GONZÁLEZ

2

Tree bark canoes

Another subsistence technique culturally transformed into handicrafts are canoes made of tree bark, wood or sea lion skin, which the Kawésqar continue to make in small sizes, to transmit the ancestral use of animal or vegetable materials, which allowed them thousands of years, navigate the length and breadth of its territory.

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Tree bark

boats

3

bone harpoons

The Kawésqar perfected the edge in raw materials such as whale bone: highly resistant and light porous. This material is extracted from strandings on the territory's coasts and eachof the harpoons are designed for the specific hunting of certain species.

In front of you there is a small and delicate whale bone harpoon, used specifically for hunting otters, an animal not consumed by the Kawésqar, nor by their dogs, but which was persecuted by Europeans and North Americans, who arrived in the 17th century. XIX for the fur business and led the Kawésqar to design and hunt this animal.

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Sea Lion

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Otter

4

Valuable stones

For the Kawésqar two rocks were very important: pyrite, which allowed them to make fire, a rocky material with brilliant crystals (also called fool's gold) and from which the mystery of the source where they could extract and exchange it remains to this day. then with the other cultures of Patagonia. Another very dark and sharp is obsidian, also called volcano glass, it allowed them for millennia to surely achieve the necessary edge to skin animals, perfect tools or cut any organic material that is left short by the edge of the brilliant obsidian, with which they also developed the spear or arrowhead to hunt small animals such as birds and smaller mammals.

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Pyrite

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Obsidian

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