The Charm Of Chilean Culture

Chile! My interest for Chile began when I was doing my Spanish course. And of course, I did an assignment on it too. I used to pronounce the name “Chile” very wrongly before that. Check how to pronounce Chile before starting to read about it.

Even though you have come across the name Chile, I am sure not many of you have come across Mapuche. Before knowing about Mapuche… I’ll let you know about Chile and why it is one of the most beautiful Latin American country. I’ll be trying my best to make you fall in love with Chile.

Photo by Francisco Kemeny on Unsplash
  • Chile is a one of the most popular South American country. If you look at the map, its this long narrow land beautifully stretching more than 2700miles from north to south close to Pacific Ocean.
  • Fun fact! It is the longest country in the world. Plus, it is home to 5 of the UNESCO’s world heritage sites. Visit Rapa Nui National Park and Seaport City of Valparaíso for sure!
  • It has the biggest swimming pool in the world. I should learn swimming already. *Sigh*.
  • Chile also ended up as a home to the oldest mummy in the world.
  • Plus, its one of the safest country in South America.
Photo by Sifan Liu on Unsplash

What is more beautiful about it is, just like India, it has this most diversified geographical landscape.

  • Yes! It is a country with deserts, mountains, subtropical island, vast open plains, ice fields, lakes and glaciers as well as a vibrant city – Santiago(Reminds me of B99 Santiago… nevermind). I have been dreaming for years to visit this country.
  • Chile is also got some 1300 volcanoes. And 3 of them are still cooking. And Ojos del Salado is the highest volcano in the world.
  • One more thing that makes Chile even more attractive is the fact that it is the “World Capital of Astronomy“. Best place for stargazing!
  • And the country side is close to Andes Mountain Range. A single picture shows what Chile is all about. Imagine living in Santiago. You can enjoy the best view wherever you are. Because Andes is watching you and you got nowhere to hide from this beau.
  • If you are lucky, if it rained in the Atacama Desert, you can see the desert covered with purple flowers. Worlds driest place… with flowers. Can you believe it?
  • There is another strange thing… You can see penguins. Not being caged. You can see them roaming around.
  • This won’t be necessary to you… but Chileans and I would get well together. Yeah! We love to talk about UFOs. Their government got research department for UFO. How cool is that?!
Image by Monica Volpin from Pixabay

Chilean cuisine is an amalgamation of Spanish, German, Italian and indigenous cuisine. Some of the most popular and must try dishes that made me drool just by watching the pictures. *again sigh* are, Machas a la parmesana, Chilean Empanadas, Cazuela, Pastel de Choclo(not a chocolate), Chilean Sea Bass and Pisco Sour.

When I get to know about these… I was like… “Why is Chile good at everything?!”

Photo by Olga Stalska on Unsplash

The place that I desperately wanted to visit there is TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK.

Now, lets get to know about the one of the indigenous community of Chile. Mapuche! They are also called as Araucanian by Spanish people.

Unlike other colonized countries close to it, Chile is less diversified in terms of culture. Before Chile was colonized, Mapuche was the majority of indigenous people of the region along with the Ayamara, the Quechua, the Diaguta etc… Even now Chile is home to half of the indigenous people and Europeans. Especially Spaniards. Also you could see the traces of immigrant cultures. Most of the time this will be reflected in Chile’s culture and lifestyle. Which you will be reading about in a bit.

Flickr

Mapuche is this really dope tribe of Chile. I Stan them. They can be mostly found in the south central part of Chile. They have been people of the land even before 600 BC. You could also find them in Argentina. If you read about them you get to know how much they resisted the European invasion. They still try their best to preserve their culture.

Even after going through so much while fighting against invasion of Spain for 350 years they still survive the test of time. They are still trying their best to sustain their culture and rights amidst the change and dominance of Spain culture compared to other countries where the indigenous population are not even treated with the respect and opportunity they deserve.

Even at present they are fighting for their ancestral lands. You can read more about their political clash if interested.

Now, lets go further to know about their culture.

Just like Sami culture which I spoke in last article, Mapuche people also has a strong belief in Nature. Sometimes if you look closer, nature was the religion and base of spirituality in the beginning. They strongly believe in coexisting.

At present Roman Catholic is the most dominant religion in Chile.

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Also, women used to have so much authority, power over decision making. The Mapuche shamans are usually women. They are the ones who perform ceremonies and rituals to ward of evil, improve harvest and protect people. These shamans also known as Machis, follow medicinal practices depending on nature. They get medicines from their biodiversity.

Next. The Mapuche people speaks Mapudungun language. Currently almost 20,000 people still converse in Mapudungun fluently on a regular basis. Present generation also converse in Spanish. These people also has a pleasant traditional house called Rukas.

Image by richardchillan from Pixabay 

They also had their very own beautiful traditional art and textile practices where they make ponchos, blankets and dresses which is passed from generations after generations. Further, there are more outstanding products such as woodcarvings, pottery and basketry gave life out of their art. I also saw a picture of stone bowl which seems like a smaller version of our stone grinder “Ammi”.

Image by Patricio Hurtado from Pixabay 

About woodcarvings, there is something interesting fact about it. If someone dies in their tribe, they do a significant woodcarving in their grave site, called Chemamull. It would be like tall… very tall. 2 meters! They are also so good at metal works, most popular are in relation to silver which has slight influence from the Spaniards.

The Mapuche people also has a unique musical instrument it doesn’t seems to have influence from the Andean cultures. Unlike Sami people, Mapuche people do not dance to entertain others or sing for others. They do this only to praise their gods. Their musical instruments are

Flickr
  • Trutruca, Nolkin – Trumpet like instruments.
  • Pingkullwe, Fifullka, Kull Kull – Flute like instruments
  • Kunkulkawe – Bow like instrument
  • Makwa, Kultrun – Double headed drum and ceremonial drum
  • Kadkawilla – Straps made of leather connected with bells.

About dances, for chile the traditional dance is considered to be Cueca. Whereas, for the Mapuche people at present they dance Mutrum Purun to welcome guests. Where as they used to dance only for their gods in the past.

Now the most important aspect of culture of Mapuche… Food! The most delicious traditional Mapuche cuisine is something they take so much pride in. Its healthy and flavorful and smells like rich recipes and techniques passed on by the ancestors. Like using curanto oven where they cook the meat packed in leaf and cook it underground.

Their ingredients usually includes meats such as beef, mutton, poultry… While for Sami people – reindeer meat, for Mapuche tribe its horse meat; apart from that, Araucania pine nut, beans, potatoes, fruits, wheat, Merken spice and other ingredients native to the land. Some of the popular dishes which I feel like trying are:

Flickr
  • Catuto – A Traditional Wheat Bread eaten with chilli sauce or honey
  • Sopaipillas – A fried pastry which looks like our Tamil Nadu’s Ottai Vada/Ulunda Vada but its not. It is made from wheat dough.
  • Charquican – A stew with meat and vegetables.
Flickr

When it comes to clothing culture, Mapucha women are expert weavers. For centuries they used the wool of llama/guanaco to weave. Now they also use lamb wool. For women they wear a clothing called Kupam, which is usually a piece of square shaped cloth hang from their shoulder to the ankles and tie it with a belt called tariwe and use a brooch like thing called tupu. Women also wears a traditional silver jewelry. which seems to be heavy. It also have some artistic element in it like images of birds and plants. Whereas for men, they are clothed in Makun, which is a poncho like garment with lots of artwork in it. Along with it they also wear a Ekota(footwear).

Chilean culture mythology and folklore have strong connection with the indigenous beliefs explaining the origin of world, creation of world and natural elements and happenings. But of course colonization had some impacts on this in the later years. Some of the most popular mythological figure of Mapuche is Pedro Udemales, la Llorona, la Calchona etc.

Hope you are interested to visit Chile and embrace the Chilean culture with lots of love. And don’t forget to show some respect to their culture & traditions. Be cautious so that you don’t offend them.

So, that’s what I got so far about Chilean culture. Hope you enjoyed reading it. If you know anything more about Chilean culture make sure to share it in the comment section. I wanted to post if before hand. But because of some severe work I was unable to research more.

By NBsakura

A solivagant, who is trying to cherish every moment through every journey that I'm destined with.

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