World Fair Trade Organization – Beyond Beautiful

'Fibra local'

In Santa Ema, a remote rural town in the Collipulli commune, there is a group of 14 Mapuche women known as the “Potters of Piutril”, who turn clay into beautiful ornamental pieces such as fountains, plates and vessels. The community was born from the need to satisfy the desire for independence and autonomy. Tired of the machismo so typical of the rural world in their country, this job has freed them from the overwhelming routine and has even allowed them to provide financial support to their families. “Putting their hands in the mud”, as they themselves affirm, has given their lives a true meaning. Although their designs are simple, the beauty of their work lies precisely in that simplicity, which rescues the traditions and worldview of the Mapuche people. In addition to the ceramics already mentioned, the potters also make jars in the shape of animals, such as chickens, dogs, horses, pigs and ducks. 

The raw material with which they create their ceramics is obtained from a vein that is located at the foot of the Salto Chancagua, an impressive waterfall of more than 50 meters. To get there, they must descend a steep and slippery ravine, using makeshift ropes. A very risky task, but one that they carry out with joy and enthusiasm. A community work that reflects the effort and commitment of these brave artisans, tireless workers who have known how to push the limits beyond what was imagined to put this small town in the Araucanía region on the map.

The artisans of the “Pilwa del Budi Ancestral Route” treasure the technique of making the traditional “pilwa” or bag with fine natural fibre rope, one of the most characteristic elements of Mapuche crafts.

The Pilwa is part of the identity and artisanal tradition of the Mapuche Lafkeche (people of the sea) who inhabit Lake Budi, the only salt lake in South America. 

The rope is created from the Sucker, a vegetable fibre that grows in abundance around the lake. It is skilfully woven into basketry products such as bags, baskets and key rings. As a readily available natural resource and totally bio de-gradable it is very sustainable environmentally product collection.