Here are few interesting facts about the Mapuche that Iamd discussing in greater details in my other blog posts:
- Dating back 12,000 years to the beginning of their culture, the Mapuche language, Mapudungu, still has approximately 20,000 people who speak it. A number of academics have also agreed that it is absolutely unrelated to any other language.
- Being a very religious population, the Mapuche perceive life as a spiritual fight between evil and good. They worship many gods. Their Machi leaders communicate with spirits and to keep off evil spirits.
Despite the fact that the Mapuche people make up almost 10 percent of population of Chile, the Mapuche nation and their really interesting history unfortunately remain quite unknown to the western people. As the only group of South American native population to successfully defend their land from the invading threats of both the powerful Spanish conquistadors and the Inca Empire, their amazing achievements have to be known worldwide. Independence victories aside, Mapuche also represent people who, even in front of a constantly growing globalized world, still take pride in preserving the traditions of their old culture. They boast a language isolate, delicious cuisine, beautiful artwork, and have a natural feel for creativity which will for sure inspire people who were privileged to visit these amazing communities and to witness what I am talking about.
The Mapuche communities live primarily in Araucania region of Chile. Their settlements can also be found in rural parts of south and west Argentina. By the way, it was the residents of Araucania that triumphed over the Spanish conquerors in 16th century.
Unable to destroy the Mapuche unique culture in a first forceful attack, same as with native inhabitants of Peru, the conquistadors were left humiliated and frustrated.
As much as the fighting techniques of Mapuche might have seemed chaotic and unorganized, they hid in the forest prior to unexpectedly charging towards the Spanish opposition. The effectiveness of this military method was undeniable. A 300 years of Arauco War against numerous Spanish armies later, both the Mapuche cultural pride and independence were finally left intact.
The Mapuche people are also gifted when it comes to cooking flavorsome, versatile and nutritious cuisine. Over the centuries, the natives of Chile keep drawing from the enduring recipes and some even still utilize the traditional curanto oven. The Mapuche call it a hole in the ground, usually three foot wide, used to heat meats, wrapped in leaves and vegetables over a fire. Speaking about the food itself, the Mapuche is the most known worldwide for the smoky Merkén spice. You can use it for soups, fish, sandwiches and any other dish and it gives a dishe a mild chili kick. Other specialties include kollof (seaweed), milcaos (little potato cakes) and charquicán (a potato, corn, pumpkin and meat stew). The Mapuche deserts are also appetizing: albaricoque (green sour plums) and piñónes (huge pine nuts, soaked in syrup) remain among favorites in the indigenous communities.
Also known for making exquisite jewelry and outstanding artwork, the Mapuche focus their creative talents on necklaces, basketry, pottery, carving and woodwork. The art pieces can be sacred, decorative or functional and they vary greatly. In fact, if you wish to check out their eye-catching jewelry, a trip to Museo Regional de la Araucanía of Temuco or Pucón Museo Mapuche will definitely impress you.