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Wichilenay Weaving: Handmade Goods from the Wichi People of Argentina

Mawo, which means “mountain fox,” is the brand of the indigenous Wichi Tribe located in the province of Formosa in northern Argentina. The Wichi practice of weaving involves the use of chaguar, vegetable fibers made from thorny bromeliads found in their local forests. Traditional textile techniques have been passed down within the tribe for centuries, and remain a core part of their cultural identity.

The work begins by joining strands of chaguar fiber in the hand and rolling them into threads. From there, the threads can be dyed with tinctures made from roots, leaves, fruits, and ashes to obtain a palette of earthy colors inspired by and derived from nature. Once their materials are ready, weavers begin the slow and laborious process of knotting and overcasting, making baskets, carpets, garments, and bags by hand and according to tradition. Their works feature variations of ancestral patterns, symbols, and sacred geometry. Each object speaks of the landscape and its people, and is itself a part of Wichi history.

Mawo is dedicated to the enhancement and advancement of the vibrant living culture and ancestral art of the Wichi Tribe. Through the sale of their woven wares, the brand creates jobs as a means of offering financial empowerment and support for the women who make up the vast majority of their weavers, with a focus on helping those in vulnerable rural communities. Sandra Toribio, a representative of Mawo says, “We are the story that restores and rejuvenates our livelihoods, [and] local economies by turning each page and rewriting the future. […] Our crafts are the diary of the artisan history of the Wichi. They [come from the] heart of our peoples [and are made in] tribute to the Wichi artisan traditions, and the ancestry of a people that [continue to survive].”