CHILE AT CARIFESTA
Chile land of the giant race Patagonians,....of the proudest
of the Caribbean and Latin American peoples the Mapuches who were never
conquered by the Conquistadors....of the revolutionary Pablo Neruda and
Gabriela Mistral, MOBEL PRIZE writers comes to CARIFE5TA with a cul-
ture that is unlike every other in the region.
The factors which makes this singular difference between the
culture of Chile and the other Caribbean and Latin American countries are
the lack of much African cultural influence in the land and the fact that
indigenous peoples of this vast country with a length of 2,600 miles was
never completely conquered and as such there is a great sense of pride.
The tale of the Chilean people is a strange, bitter-sweet,
beautiful tale sprinkled with a touch of awe.
The Chilean people are mainly the mixture of two indomitable
races, the conquering Spaniards and the never conquered Araucanos. It
is unbelievable, but true, how these two people alternately fought and
embraced each other for 400 years.
They watered the soil with their blood in angur, and they mixed
in love: Now they have a nation which boasts proudly of its Araucanos/
If there is at lesst one thing which this pre-Colombian/Old
World mixture has produced, it is the rich culture of the people that
will be presented through the many art forms at CARIFESTA.
This cultural richness can for example be seen in the folk
fiesta celebrated every December 26 by the people of Andacollo in honour
of Lo Chinita. At this time the menfolk leave their gold workings and
join their women all dressed in bright costumes, and masks and head-
dresses with feathers and mirrors. The done to this virgin which the
people believe works many miracles for them, lasts for three days and
It is o touching spectacle to see the pilgrims from the Boliv-
ian highlands and Argentina some with jungle packs on their backs -
arriving for this sacred fiesta after travelling for hundreds of miles
over the Andes mountain, which towers for over 20,000 feet, through
treacherous jungles and black cataract-filled rivers. This colourful
blending of the secular with the religious bringing together a high mass,
fireworks, cockfighting, wine and music, is typical of the Latin-American
and Caribbean man's cpprooch to religion.
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In the Araucanos village of Temuco and other rural areas much
of the folk art comes to the fore. In many cases the music is pre-
Colombian, for in this land the people have not forgotten the musical
instruments of their forefathers.
The trutruca, or reed pipe, produces a bellowing note. And
there is the cuincuicahuc, a double musical bow of wood or bones that
is bent with a bowstring and interlocked. This instrument which gets
its sound through the rubbing of the bowstrings is said to have been
played by the mapuches after a successful hunt.
A few more typical instruments of the Chilean which have sur-
vived are the huade, a seed filled rattle; the cuicuil, a cow's horn on
the end of a bamboo tube; the pincuilhue, a vertical flute; and the
culturum, a flat drum.
These instruments in fact provide the music for many of the
Chilean festivals and some of them will surely thrill the ChiRIFESTA
audiences, Chile's most typical dance is the zamacueca of Moorish/
Spanish origin, with touches of indigenous movements.
The richness of the Chilean culture also comes out in their
handicraft, art work, painting and sculpture, and in their literature
The handicraft capitol of Chile is Temuco where the Mapuches,
descendants of the fierce Arsucanos, still use ancient techniques to weave
their gaily coloured choapinos, ponchos slit in the middle of the head,
beautiful woven and embroidered sashes and scarves, all kinds of leather-
workas well as unique pottery, rosaries and necklaces. The Mapuchos love
working in the gold mines and making beautiful double-plaque necklaces,
earrings and bracelets for their women,
The art of Chile is a liberated art expressing the pride of its
people. The modern day painting have come a far way from the times of
Pedro Rencoret the grandfather of Chilean painting and his masterpiece on
canvas "La fundacion de Santiago". And the same can be said of the coun-
try's sculpture. Its music is a creature of many rhythmic wombs.
Much of Chilean literature, like its legends and folklore, is
centred around the struggle between the Spaniards and the Araucanians,
but that literature also has its root deep in the Chilean soil. It is a
literature that speaks of the struggles between the Incas and the Araucan-
ians; of how the Conquistador Valdivia was tortured by throwing molten
gold down his throat because he "lusted after it",
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The literature speaks of La Quintrala, the famous poison
murderess of one of the wealthiest creolese families, who did away with
her father, sweetheart and a score of others then bribed a corrupt Gov-
ernor and escaped punishment.
It capture- the ethos of the Potagonicns, a semi-giant tribe
of the Americas who still use arrows tipped with flint or of the women
at the foot of the Chilean Andes who on special days still go to market
wearing silver medallions around their heads and silver plaques covering
Two of the most outstanding writers in Chile and indeed the
entire Latin American and Caribbean area are Gabrilla Mistral and Pablo
Neruda who was awarded the country's national prize for literature in
Like Cuba Chile breathes a revolutionary air. Chile shows
much interest in things happening in Cuba. In fact five of Pablo Nerudals
poems that have been included in the CARIFESTA anthology deals with the
peoples revolution in Cuba. Both Neruda and Mistral, who have served
their county overseas as Ambassadors occupy themselves with grassroots
things belonging to the people and the "long land".
The Chilean, like all the peoples of the Caribbean and Latin
America have been moulded by their environment, whether harsh or pleasant.
It is said that Chile,with valleys stretching for over 5,000 miles and
sombre gr'itin mass towering for 25,000 feet, possesses all the types
of temperatures known to the world. It is surrounded by a thousand
Islands, archipelagos and channels.
For 600 miles between its border with Peru and the Copiapo there
is the hottest region in the Americas where sometimes for a whole year no
rain falls, no grass grows only vast brown hills of nitrate and copper
meet the eye....It is a picture of death....indeed the bones of men and
lower beasts whitened by the scorching sun are like pictures in an open
book which tell tdz own sad tale, of being screaming for water,
For another 400 miles from Copiapo to Illapel only the valley
bottom blooms. From Illapel to Conceprion, the heartland of Chile is
always blooming and beautiful with much rain; between Concepcion and
Puerto Montt is a world of a thousand lakes and rivers; from Puerto Montt
to the treacherous Capo Horn a stretch of a thousand miles are the
inhuman regions with its dark wild forests and slippery mountains,
glaciers, Fjords, Islands and channels where fierce freezing winds howl
their war songs and the white ice covers the ground for the better part
of the year.
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Out of this environment comes the people and culture of Chile,
Nuances of the richness, grandeur, beauty and harshness of the Chilean
landscape have found tl-r way into the music, dance, literature and art of
Out of this environment has evolved one of the most fascinating
types of human beings in the world with a unique culture. Discovering
these strange people who are like some giants out of an Arabian tale was
an experience for the famous explorer Magellan.
Magellan had just escaped death in the storm lashed straights
around Tierra del Fuego or "Fire Land" the night before when his men
were almost frightened to death by the strange lights from the primitive
Indian watch fires only to be greeted by a queer human being wrapped in
Guanaco skins, one arm and one leg bare, stalking slowly over a hill
nearby. The creature was so large that Magellan came only to his waist.
The discoverer nicknamed him Patagon "The Big Foot" and thus the whole
tribe became known as "Patagonia". The Patagonians still roam the jungles
of Southern Chile today.
Many have abandoned their skin capes sewn with wh3le's beard
while others still use their odd fish spears, woven baskets and animal
skin pouches and caulked Papyrus boats.
Chile "The Long Land" brings to CARIFESTA much of their richness
and Spanish heritage in a form that will help bring about a greater under-
standing among our several peoples.
Chile a country of traditions end different latitudes; with
desertic plains to the north and to the south the land oc Chiloe, "the
magic archipelago", with its rich mythology and its agitated, almost
violent dances, born and raised in the midst of the cold seasons and the
hardships of the fisherman of Chiloe,brings much to CARIFESTA a
culture that all the other Caribbean and Latin American countries can
be proud of.
In writing of this present day world that is not only
Cuba's but ours, Nicolas Guillen the Cuban revolutionary
"Ve've :ot Chinese, white, black and mixed;
but reieml'er that our colors are cheap,
for after years of contracts and tricks
nobody's purity runs very deep.
So there's no "stable tone" as you can see.
(Step forward and snenk if you don't agree)...."
"West Indies! Vest Indies! Nest Indies!
hirsute, copper place where life crawls
slow with dried mud blistering on its hide.
Where the feet of every man are tired."
One of the aims of CAAIJT'STA is to help loosen these
bands that bind the feet of the people and smother forever
images that incarcerate the mind.
Through CA JIP-STA the living folk of the Cuban people
and even the inanimate sounds of Havana bells, which the
natives say has a rich MhinY because of the silver and gold
that their ancestors poured into the molten bronze, vill
for the first time in a special way spill over into the
wider Caribbean and Latin America.
The partici-ation of Cuba in CAJuIFtSTA is testimony to
the fact that this cultural exposition transcends barriers
of race, religion or ideology and embraces all our peoples.
Indeed CAMtIFSTA knows no barriers..... it only knows
the enchanting rhythms of the folk, and grassroot things
that belong to the people of the Caribbean and Latin America,
and their embodiment in the various art forms.