In a small rural village called Rari in the Chilean municipality of Colbún, in the Maule region (300 km south of Santiago), you will find the most beautiful butterflies that you’ve ever seen, with the brightest colors and the most defined lines. They are not, however, the type of butterflies you are probably familiar with; they are born with the help of horses, and their scientific name is Mariposa de Crin.
This beautiful handmade art and craft technique, called ‘crin’, or horsehair weaving, is unique in the world and has been conserved for over two hundred years.
The mostly female artisans, work the horsehair naturally or dyed, combining it with ixtle, a vegetable fiber from Mexico, which is used to firm the weave structure. The technique involves creating a network of horsehair fibers around the ixtle. The only tools used are the hands and a needle for finishing things off.
The results are beautiful objects that draw upon folklore and nature, and they are often used as decorative pieces.
You can contact the artisan’s community of Rari through Eliana Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sara Toro (email@example.com). In 2010 they were recognized, along with the whole artisan community of Rari, as a “Living Human Treasure”. Chile grants this recognition to individuals and communities who represent an intangible cultural heritage that is of high significance for the country and local communities.
To learn more about the process here is a video that captures the essence of the technique and the artisans working on the horsehair weaving:
I want to give special thanks to my dearest friend Maria Ignacia Ibarra for sharing with me her passion for this handcraft and the artisan’s community of Rari. The pictures of this article are taking by her, as part of her experiences living and working with the community.
The Localist participates in Book Depository's affiliate programme. Whenever you click on a link on The Localist to buy a book from Book Depository (including here), The Localist will earn a small commission on the sale. You will be contributing in a meaningful way towards sustaining and improving this website.