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Mapuche poncho
ca. 1920
Cholchol, Cautín Province, Chile
Wool, dye
156 x 147 cm
Collected during the Thea Heye Chile Expedition led by Samuel K. Lothrop

The Mapuche were highly skilled weavers who created ponchos, belts, women’s dresses, shawls, headbands, and blankets of extraordinary quality. This magnificent, well-preserved poncho is woven with several different red and maroon colors and, importantly, with a stepped-diamond motif associated with authority and power in Mapuche society. In public ceremonies, such as the agricultural Nguillatun ceremony, only the Lonko and Tonki—older men and leaders, usually the heads of a large patrilineages, wear these special ponchos.

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