Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Chilean national attire: complementing two cultures

Last week the Chilean ‘Camara de Diputados’ (MPs) unanimously approved Agreement No. 522 and so declaring the DOÑIHUE ‘Chamanto’ an Intangible Heritage.

Chamanto is a traditional attire and it is one of the most distinctive pieces wear by ‘huasos’ (huaso is the name given to countryman – i.e. cowboy). The piece is poncho-like made of woven with threads of silk and wool double-face. It is said that all chamantos are work of art and in Doñihue there are only 45 weavers that work in this trade who are very protective and reluctant to share their knowledge (TK is shared from mother to daughter).

The report given by the MPs explained that this piece is ‘unique and distinctive’ and encloses a primitive “relationship between man and land, keeping its symbols of belonging and tradition".

Finally, there is a statement made by the MPs that relates to what a nation is – rather than trying to divide what a native or non-indigenous is or what cultural aspect we need to be looking at. The assertion is as follows:
“...to exalt the cultural values of the homeland is a need for the community, since it implies recognition of national identity from elements that bind the whole society, identifying common values and principles belonging to the nation”.

I remember the movie ‘My big fat Greek wedding’ where a very traditional Greek young lady married a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him. In the wedding speech her father tries to explain the roots of the young couple respective surnames saying that one is ‘apple’ and the other one is ‘orange’ – different, but in the end, they are fruits.
Today we have a fine example of that. Reading the Agreement I noticed that the MPs observed that ‘chamantos’ are complementing two cultures: the indigenous and the Hispanic, and while they are different, they harmonize and represent (beautifully) the whole nation.

Agreement No 522 can be found at this link (in Spanish)

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