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The Mapuche - The Seeds of Chile

This changing exhibition introduces the audience to the rich material culture of the Mapuche, an indigenous people in Chile. It exhibits both artefacts dealing with the traditional shamanistic religion and objects connected with everyday life. The visual wealth of Mapuche culture is manifested, for example, by women's grand silver jewellery and elaborate textiles.

Feb 17, 2012
May 01, 2012
Contact Name Sámi Museum Siida
Contact Email
Contact Phone +358400898212
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The ancestors of the present Mapuche tilled the land, gathered wild fruits and hunted – and, raising livestock, practised nomadism at a small scale. Their thatched houses, rukas, were built on rivers and lakes. In their small gardens, potatoes, maize, beans and quinoa were cultivated. The Mapuche that lived on the sea fished and collected shellfish. At the base of the Andes, the seeds of the pine Araucaria araucana formed an important source of food.

The Spanish conquerors arrived in the area today known as Chile and Argentina in the late 1500s. This was the beginning of an almost 300-year period of wars. The Mapuche quickly adopted the settlers’ practice of using the horse, which helped them in their fight against the conquistadors. As a result of a defeat in the late 1800s, the state of Chile took over the lands of the Mapuche.

According to a present estimate, the number of the Mapuche is approximately 600,000. Logging, the building of hydro-electric power plants and mining have increasingly encroached upon the living conditions of the Mapuche. The Mapuche share the destiny of many other indigenous peoples of America. Even today, they suffer from discrimination, poverty and social problems. Despite their difficulties, the Mapuche have tried to maintain their language, Mapundungun, and their customs.

The Mapuche – The Seeds of Chile exhibition displays archaeological artefacts, textiles, silver jewellery and objects that are connected with everyday life and with Mapuche shamanism. This visiting exhibition provides the public a unique opportunity of learning more about another indigenous people from the other side of the world in addition to the Sámi. The Mapuche exhibition can be viewed at Siida from 18 February to 1 May 2012.

The Mapuche – The Seeds of Chile has been produced by Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. It has earlier been displayed in, for example, Columbia, China and Poland. The tour of the exhibition has been supported by the Embassy of Chile in Finland.

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