Matriarca was born in 2013 with the aim to build a sustainable company, that leveraged the development of marginalized rural areas. They work with COMAR (Collective of Women Artisans), Fundación Gran Chaco, and El Futuro está en el Monte Organization. They work together, articulating public bodies with the private sector, being able to change paradigms, and build a sustainable future. Matriarca believes in empowering native women, helping them to develop the region, and value their ancestral heritage. The artisans work only with natural materials, and everything is handmade by them. According to each community, they use: Carandillo, Sheep Wool, Llama Wool or Chaguar. They use only natural dyes, and everything is found in their natural surroundings.
THE WICHÍ COMMUNITY
The Wichí women live in the Gran Chaco region. They weave the fibers of the chaguar plant, found in their surroundings. From generation to generation they learn the different patterns and designs they create. Each piece is unique and special.
THE CHAGUAR PROCESS
The Wichí women enjoy their peaceful walks around the Monte in search of chaguar. The term chaguar comes from the Quechua language; and in areas of Guarani influence, it is also known as Caraguatá. It is not cultivated, but grows in the wilderness. As the leaves have thorns, the plant is extracted with the help of a stick. Once the plant is extracted, the Wichí women begin a five step process in order to prepare the chaguar to be, later on, woven:
Unthreading: Women Select the leaves and extract the thorny coverage.
Degumming: Women crush the fibres and then scrape the leaves to remove impurities.
Bleaching: The fibres are bleached and dried in the sun. The stronger the sun, the whiter the fibre.
Elaboration of the thread: Fibre by fibre, the treads are separated. Some are thicker than others. Over their legs, they twist the fibres, using ash to help them get a strong textured thread.
Dyeing: Women use the roots, fruits, barks and leaves of the native mountain of Gran Chaco to obtain diverse colors. The traditional colors are ochres, blacks and browns.
The design: The designs arise from the Wichí cultural universe: the animals of the Monte are often reproduced. As the Wichí community is hunter- gatherer, they establish an intimate relationship with the animals they hunt: identifying themselves with the prey's spirit. Some of the most common designs are the Suri’s loin, the Owl’s eye, Woodpecker’s chest or the Viper’s Skin. What they weave, they use in their daily lives: fruit bags, fishing nets and vests, among other things.
THE QOMLE'EC COMMUNITY
The Qomle'ec women weave the wool offered by the Creole sheep of the Gran Chaco and transform it into beautiful fabrics. All garments are dyed with their plants, leaves, fruit rinds, capturing in a variety of colours the joy of their culture, which is still alive and strong today. By appreciating their craft, you are valuing their culture. Each piece is unique and special.
The wool that is obtained from the sheep is the raw material that allows Qomle'ec women make beautiful animals, rugs and tapestries.
The whole process begins by rinsing the fleece four times to remove the dirt.
After being washed, the wool begins its drying stage.
Once dry, the wool passes through a device called Distaff by which the soft threads that will be used to weave the products, are obtained.
Before they start weaving, women dye their threads with natural dyes that come from their surroundings. These dyes are made out of fruits, barks and roots of different trees.
Once the threads have been dyed, they start weaving and creating.Their tapestries and carpets have been known to many past generations.
The techniques applied, together with the different thicknesses of the threads, allow Qomle´ec women to maintain designs that reflect ancestral knowledge.
Although the Animalitos are relatively new within their community, there are now women who train others in this practice.