Friday, March 27, 2015

It's a crafty world: Crin - The fading craft of Chile's 'living human treasures'

I first heard about Crin when I met Macarena, a lively, petite girl with big butterfly tattoos and impressive spider-web resembling earrings. Macarena was from Chile; she was studying Industrial Design and was taking afternoon silversmithing classes on the side. Her purpose was to create a unique wedding ring and necklace set for her sister, using a combination of silversmithing techniques with the traditional Chilean craft of Crin.

Her earrings were made by her grandmother, who passed her down the philosophy and techniques of Crin; a form of very delicate weaving using horse hair, usually dyed in vibrant colors. Crin originates from the remote Chilean village of Rari. The women of this village have developed this craftwork for more than two centuries, as it was transmitted from mothers to daughters. It’s a technique similar to basket weaving which begun by using Alamo roots fiber and evolved to the use of dyed horse hair to weave delicate and colorful figures.

Nowadays, there are only a few people left practicing the craft as a full time job. Crin weavers, called 'living human treasures' by the National Arts and Culture Council, usually have to take up alternative occupation in the summer, as the Chilean summer heat makes it prohibitive working with delicate fibers. It is estimated that around 100 people in total practice the craft, among them 10 men. As with many dying arts, Crin relies upon the interest of younger people, like Macarena, to be preserved and cherished by future generations.

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