« Safeguarding : making visible the invisible »

Tekoharte - Unesco - Invitation Flyer

In an increasingly globalized world, the preservation of ancestral knowledge, especially that guarded by women and indigenous peoples, faces great challenges. Paraguay is a country rich in cultural diversity, and it is precisely in this diversity where its potential lies. Popular and ancestral knowledge, transmitted over generations, constitutes an invaluable tool for understanding subjectivities and, therefore, promoting social cohesion. However, today, its continuity is threatened by various contemporary factors.

Climate change, access to land and natural resources represent enormous challenges for the continuity of cultural expressions that contribute to the construction of social identity in Paraguay. The sustainability of practices such as ceramics ( ñai’upo ) and the production of textiles with karaguatá fibers are closely linked to the availability of resources present in the territories inhabited by the women who practice these techniques.

“Safeguarding, making the invisible visible” is a living testimony of how the combination of inherited knowledge and access to natural resources can converge into unique works of art. In this exhibition, each artist displays their personal style and vision, giving shape to pieces that transcend the ordinary to become authentic expressions of their creativity.

The renowned teachers of popular art, Julia Isidrez from Itá and Ediltrudis Noguera from Tobatí, use the pre-Columbian technique of ñai’upo. Their hands shape the black clay extracted from the esterals to create pieces that are later cooked in wood-fired ovens. Although the technique has been inherited intergenerationally, each one of them has been able to print its own distinctive seal, thus enriching the cultural legacy. The use of black clay ( ñai’u ) for the production of artistic or utilitarian works highlights the connection between the material, the territory and the transformative and creative capacity of women, custodians of ancestral knowledge.

Tekoharte - Unesco - Buho

El Búho – Juana Marta Rodas

Tekoharte - Unesco - Espiritu Santo

El Espiritú Santo – Julia Isídrez

Tekoharte - Unesco - Eva

Eva – Ediltrudis Noguera

On the other hand, the Nivaclé and Manjui women, from the town of Pedro P. Peña in the Paraguayan Chaco, make looms made from karaguatá fibers and natural dyes, capturing iconography on them that reflects the worldview of their people. Rosa Pirancho, Elsa Gomez, Antonia and Ester Carema… They masterfully weave the threads of the karaguatá , previously dyed with pigments extracted from leaves, flowers and stems collected in their arid territory. The production of textiles goes beyond the simple act of weaving. Women have given a deeper meaning to textile work, redefining their work through the creation of large looms. The production of these looms not only allows them to expand artistically, but also strengthens their leading role within the community and the safeguarding of ancestral knowledge.

Another form of expression adopted by the indigenous peoples of the Paraguayan Chaco is pen drawing. This expression, recently incorporated, conveys the tension between fauna, flora and the loss of territory due to productive development and deforestation. In each work the artists manage to capture the deep relationship and connection between indigenous peoples and the territory. The ability of these artists to observe and contemplate nature allows us to understand the relevance of protecting their environment. This, in turn, allows us to glimpse other possible and respectful ways of living together and relating to nature.

Far from the globalized and fast-paced world, the talent of Paraguayan artists reveals the wealth that exists in ancestral knowledge and natural resources to create unique works of high cultural value that respect the time involved in the processes of what is made by hand.

This exhibition makes clear a commitment to the preservation of heritage and reveals the challenges that exist in the territories for its continuity.