INDIGENOUS ART

“Indigenous art is not an archaeological piece, folklore, or a fetish to consume.”

– Ticio Escobar

Western interpretation has often failed to highlight the artistic character of objects that embody the culture, spirituality, and love for the land of each community. Paraguay is home to nineteen indigenous communities belonging to 5 linguistic families, giving rise to a plurality of techniques, materials, skills, and stories.

 

Recognition and promotion of each of these communities are essential for their survival.

Tekoharte - Art Indigène Fils

TEXTILES

The textiles of the Nivaclé and Manjuy communities come from the fiber of a plant called Karaguata.

The gathering of these plants in the Chaco, the extraction of their fiber, natural dyeing, and weaving have been the exclusive work of women since ancient times.

They crafted utilitarian objects, with patterns and colors identifying their ethnic origin and geographical roots.

The manufacturing processes adhere to tradition, with only the use changing to gain artistic recognition.

  • Technique : mesh fabric, net.
  • Tools : wooden mallet, stone or wooden support, machete, dye pots, needle.
  • Raw Materials : Karaguata, roots, water, fire, leaves, bark, and resins for pigmenting the fibers.
  • Main Products : bags, art feathers, rest belts (pamoi), pepper shakers, earrings, and bracelets. Previously skirts (Ayoreo) and vests (Ishir).
  • Main Production Regions : Alto Paraguay (Carmelo Peralta, Bahía Negra), Boquerón (Boquerón, Filadelfia, Loma Plata) et Presidente Hayes (Lt. Manuel Irala Fernández).

INKS

Drawing, especially done with black pen on paper, is a practice observed in the indigenous Nivaclé communities of the central Chaco, particularly in the areas where Swiss anthropologist Verena Regehr has been working for several years. This practice originated from a competition promoted by the anthropologist, where the memory of the peoples is expressed through drawing. Currently, there are renowned indigenous artists such as Clemente Julius, Osvaldo Pitoe, Marcos Ortíz, Jorge Carema, Esteban Klassen, Floriberta Fermin, among others, who have exhibited their work in cultural centers and/or museums at the national or international level.

 

The main characteristic observed in these works is the use of shading and contrast between the figure and the background that artists achieve with basic elements such as black pen and white cardboard, creating beautiful monochromatic works. Currently, it is a practice spreading among young members of the communities. Sometimes, indigenous artists use paper or painting panels.

  • Technique : hand drawing.
  • Tools and raw materials : paper, cardboard, pen, paint.
  • Main Products : sheets.
  • Main Production Regions : Boquerón (Yiclôcat, Yacacvash, Cayin ô Clim, Campo Alegre).

MBYA WEAVING

The Mbya Guarani people are known for making baskets from takuapi and takuarembo (Chusquea ramassisima), decorated with guembepi (Philodendron bipinnatifidum), which is extracted from the bark of the aerial roots of the guembe. Using these fibers, artisans weave different sizes, shapes, weaves, and designs of baskets (ajaka) and sieves (yrupe), the latter being used by the Mbya for sifting manioc flour and corn. Basketry is an integral part of the world view of Mbya culture. The products are characterized by geometric symbols representing the iconography of their culture. Depending on the region where they live, they use karandilla and chala as raw materials for making baskets.

  • Technique : handwoven.
  • Tools : scissors, glue, machete knife, and vegetable band.
  • Raw Materials : takuapi and guembepi previously soaked and softened in water to make them smooth and flexible. Karandilla and chala.
  • Main Products : sieves, baskets, lined thermoses, among others.
  • Main Production Regions : Caaguazú (Vaquería, Raúl Arsenio Oviedo) et Guairá (Trinidad).

Source : Instituto Paraguayo de Artesania