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Indian Art (Paraguay)

Indian Art

The paraguayan indian art can be divided in two parts:

  • The indian art as such, which comprises ceracmics, baskets, weaving and threading, feather art and leather work
  • The mixed indian art, which comprises the embroideries, lace, wood carving and different metal products.

Hand made products

The hand made products of Paraguay are of a great variety and comprise from ceramic articles as well as the embroideries and threads, not forgeting the wood, the basket, leather work and silver work. The Pre colombine ceramics made in the paraguayan territory was rustic and from terracota, painted in red, and occasionally in black and white, it used to be worked by hand with the colombin system and some tribes used to put a carving decoration before cooking it on fire.

The spanish, specially the jesuits, raised the technical level of production and the finishing of the native ceramics, characterized by the extreme simplicity and the useful character ,teaching the indian population in the missions.

Thanks to its attraction the ceramics pieces were more, and most of them were with glass, based on the salt and eggs, a technique that was lost after their expulsion.

The ceramic products that are still being produced today by some indian groups are jars, flower vase4s, and some without specific shapes, as well as water vases. Among those, the ones that are more widely sold due to its beauty and quality are the ones coming from Tobaty and Ita.

The threading and weaving work

The indian thread and weaving work are an important source of income for the domestic economies. Before the arrival of the spanish, the indians used a horizontal piece of material to make the hamocs with cotton threads, as well as the baskets, bags to transport food and nets for fishing and hunting. Later on they also knitted ponchos and other dresses.Just like the case of the ceramics, the jesuits also introduced new techniques in this area, using the vertical frame to make the threads and then they began producing sheets, towels, blankets, table clothes and other articles, as well as the special hamocs, which were knitted and still are with cotton trheads and ornaments on the sides.

Also, the new technical resources brought by the spanish conquerors gave space to the typical cotton dresses, the ones called ao poi, made with a fine thread, and the povyi, a little wider thread weaving, as well as the linen, and the beautiful ñandut, which means spider web in guarani language and consists of fine embroidery with which table clothes, curtains , blouses and more are made.

The most wanted ones are the ñanduti embroideries made in the cities of Guarambaré e Itauguá. Also we can mention the weaved ponchos by its beauty and quality, made by the etnic groups lengua, maskoy, chulupi and mataco from the Chaco. They use sheep wool tinted in red and the ones called of 60 lists, made in Pirayú y Yataity, departament ofGuairá.

Baskets and weaving of Karaguata

The baskets, for which fibers of canes are used to produce open baskets and with handles, hand fands, shades,plates mats, canes and bamboos, and specially piri, the typical paraguayan hat of the country men.The leather products, such as bags, hats, sacks,etc have their main centers in Limpio and Luque, where there is also a production of beautiful baskets.

The rich indian basket production of Paraguay has some division depending on the plantations, for example some communities where the main crops are mandioca and baskets have developed solid vases of great capacity, as well as the ajaka mbya, which has an average of 35 centimetres with rigid structures that permit to hold the heavy weigh of the mandiocas.

The ajak are made of a weaving of tacuarembo and dark guembepi, making braided figures as well as geometric ones, in accordance with the concept of the guarani beauty. The basket making associated to the production of corn has developed somewhat smaller and lighter vases , made of pindo palm tree leaves.

The weaving of Karaguata

The weaving of Karaguata is an important element of the indian art.It is an expression of the indian community of the Chaco. The bags of Karaguata are some of the most common applications of the fiber braides. The collectors bags are mainly used by women, who carry them on their backs and have a form of a big half moon, the hunting bags are smaller, rectangular, carried by men on their shoulders. The chamacocos used a pupo, a protection vest made of karaguata, knitted when wet, and therefore very rigid, to protect them from the arrows of the enemies.

Ceremonial suits

The etnia chamacoco, coming from the department of Alto Paraguay, (Chaco ) used dresses during the ritual which is celebrated each year ,called debylyby and are made of special fibers knitted and masks made of the karaguata trees and colorful feathers from chaco birds.

Pa`i Tavytera

The necklaces are very appreciated, and are made of colorful seeds of different fruits as well as the wood carving are one of the most important samples of pa´i tavyterá.

Toba – Qom

They make works in colorful wool threads, as well as the traditional bags, piri hats and carandilla baskets.

Mbya

The indians of this group have a special ability in making baskets of natural tacuara, that are decorated with drawings of guembepi and animals of the zone, as well as their necklaces and wood carving.

Ayoreo

The ayoreos bagas are one of the most wanted indian handy work . They are made with karaguata fibers and they keep a touch of rustic indian beauty in its confection, which makes them extremely attractive ; they also dedicate to make feather art and dishes and wooden spoons of palo santo.

Maka

The memberes of the Maka group are excellent weavers, their traditional blankets, belts, and other elements knitted with colorful threads.

Ava Guaraní

They are very good for making baskets, hamocs, and they use karaguata fibers , as well as guembepi baskets, that represent a novelty in the indian work of the country.

Society Reflex

The art produced by these two ways of living reflect the difference of each one. Also, the communities based in the recollection system and the hunging are obviously nomads. Therefore, this situation gives way to a more flexible and open culture as well as adaptations. In the other extreme, the guarani agro culture, very attached to the land and the natural cycles, naturally presents a conservative tendency and very closed to innovations, they distinguish their own from the other`s property and makes constant problems about the need to absorve or reject the foreign signs.

Despite the different evolution stages of the societies and the special characteristics of each one, the schollars said that it`s possible to establish some shared elements in all indian communities who live or have lived in the paraguayan territory. The indian art-through the their symbols and the free exercise of their own language-is one of the most important manifestatins of the culture in our country.

Ceremonias and rites

Both the collectors and the agro societies have as a social nucleus a mitical body-ritual , from where we can articulate and develop the political power, in the judicial order, the free time, the beauty and the religion.

The mitical axis-ritual, in escence the indian cosmovisión, is componed also of the communitarian ceremonias. These are the moments when the community, through songs,dances and rites, show their identity. The indian art finds its first fundament in those ceremonies, and the human body, its principal support.The feathers ornamentatin, the tatoos, the body paintings in the case of the chaco indians and the feather art among the guaranies constitute the basic elements of the indian art in Paraguay.

Bibliography

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