Little known to the outside world and off the beaten tourist track, the tiny village of Rari is nevertheless renowned across Chile as the home of a tradition of folklore and handicraft entirely unique to the country.
The tradition is called crin and involves weaving delicate figurines and jewellery from horsehair. Its origins are shrouded in myth and mystery – undocumented for centuries and little known beyond the generations of women who passed on the technique from mother to daughter.
One local legend concerning the origins of crin says that a nun and her niece were swimming in the river that runs through town when they began passing time by weaving the roots of trees that grew into the river.
While the story can’t be verified, it is true that weaving did begin in the area using the roots of the álamo tree – which abounds on river banks and canyons in the region – around 300 years ago.
At first local women created practical objects, such as hats and baskets from the roots, but then took to creating decorations in their spare time. Eventually people from outside the village who passed through began commenting on the local decor, and the women of Rari started taking their pastime more seriously.
So began an artistic tradition that is still evolving to this day, as a younger generation of weavers and designers continues to take crin in new directions, bringing bright colors and modern designs, while maintaining the traditions that make the artform unique.
Walking down the main street of Rari today, you can still find the hats and baskets that date back to the first crin weavers, as well as motifs that have been established over generations – most commonly butterflies, witches on broomsticks, rosaries, and figurines of country women – alongside the individual styles of more experimental crin weavers.
The village of Rari is located in the Municipality of Colbún, in the Maule Region of Central Chile, a little more than 12 miles (20 km) south of the town of Linares.
Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, Rari offers plenty of outdoor opportunities, such as trout fishing in the vast Laguna del Maule lake, whitewater kayaking, hiking, and horse riding.