Mapuche culture from Chile on display in Poland and Finland

Museums in Warsaw and Helsinki are featuring exhibitions of Chilean indigenous culture, which have already visited the capitals of China and Colombia.

El proyecto cuenta con el apoyo de la Dirección de Asuntos Culturales (Dirac) del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile.

The National Museum of Ethnography in Warsaw in early March saw Seeds of Chile: a traveling show of Chilean Pre-Columbian Mapuche Art, make its European debut. The capital of Poland also has a show centering on Chilean cuisine and literature.

The exhibition offers a journey from prehistory to the present day, through 320 pieces including silver, textiles, culture, horses, woodwork, poetry, historical photography and audiovisual documents, as well as music and religious songs.

The Mapudungun poet Elicura Chihuailaf will make readings and be responsible for presenting material to the public. Elsewhere it will be possible to find watercolors, drawings and documents by scientist Ignacio Domeyko Polish (1802-1889), who was awarded Chilean nationality in recognition of his contributions to mining and geology.

The show, which has already been displayed in 2008 at the Capital Museum in Beijing and last year at the Museo del Oro in Bogota, will be hosted in October in Helsinki’s Rautavaraa Helina Museum, as part of the celebrations of 80 years diplomatic relations between Chile and Finland.

According to 2002 census data, nearly 4.6% of Chile’s total population of 700 thousand people claimed to belong to any of the eight ethnic groups recognized by Chilean law. Of these, 87.3 percent admitted to being of the Mapuche group, which is mainly concentrated in the region of La Araucania, whose capital Temuco is almost 700 kilometers south of Santiago.

The area is known for its rivers, lakes, hot springs and volcanoes, many of them gathered in a multitude of parks where tourists can take peaceful walks or take white-knuckle rides along rivers in rafts.