Indigenous Art and Crafts

Indigenous Art and Crafts

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Making local crafts is one of the few profitable economic activities Costa Rican indigenous tribes pursue. This ancestral heritage is more than just a manner to provide income. It’s a tradition that is passed on from generation to generation, teaching about symbolism and encouraging the tribes themselves as well as other interested people how to preserve indigenous culture.

The art of creating masks in the town of Rey Curré as Edixon Mora -indigenous artist describes, begins when a tree is born in the forest. This tree whispers to the craftsman the inspiration on how to create the mask. The process continues by cutting down the tree, a step that must be carefully thought according to the lunar calendar and tides, so the wood will be fully dry. Then, the crafstman will cut a piece and measure the height, length and profile of this particular work.

With special instruments the artist gives life to the wood, and creates two mask types: traditional or ecological. The first one is used by indigenous men in ‘el Juego de los Diablitos’ and has a colorful surface painted by hand with design that includes horns, tusks and other animal parts. The ecological mask shows the animals that are significant in lives of indigenous tribes: different bird species, farm animals, wild cats, and many more. They are compiled to demonstrate the environment in which indigenous men and animals coexist in harmony.

Weaving is also common craft in this local town. Indigenous textiles are created by local women who first collect the cotton from the trees, dye it in different colors with natural inks and then turn it into thread by firmly rolling it in a special wooden device. Next step will start creating a pattern thread by thread in a warping artifact; and finally woven by hand into different styles such as handbags, coin purses and others. Although the process might seem long, indigenous women with experience might only take one hour to complete the three final steps.

Besides this, in Rey Curré you can see vessel-shaped crafts called ‘jícaras’, made from hardened fruits that are later carved by the artisans depicting daily activities of the village and local animals. ‘Jícaras’ were commonly used for art expression of Mesoamerican indigenous  tribes and they can be found all over the region. In Costa Rica “jicarás” are currently used by indigenous people as kitchen utensils and of course as cups to drink ‘chicha’, the well-known indigenous drink made from corn.

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