LAB 7: El ‘buen vivir’ mapuche – What is a ‘good life’?

The focus of LindenLAB 7 is on the contemporary silver jewelry made by the silversmiths Millaray Garrido and Mario Cayupi. It is on display with the associated costumes of two ñangkan, who are ritual assistants of shamans (machi). Both the costumes and the silver jewelry incorporate elements related to Mapuche cosmology and thus to the buen vivir. The spiritual balance between humans, nature, ancestors as well as spirits guarantees a good life, the buen vivir. The shamans and their ñangkan are responsible for maintaining or even restoring this balance through rituals.

For the Mapuche artists it was of great importance to hand over a contemporary collection to a European museum. This collection represents the liveliness, beauty and diversity of Mapuche culture. The presentation is complemented by elements from the historical collection selected by Juana Paillalef.

Wallmapu, the Mapuche region

The Mapuche (people of the earth, from Mapundungun mapu = earth and che = people) live mostly in Chile, with about a tenth of the population living in Argentina. According to current estimates about two million people identify as Mapuche. By now most of them now live in the major Chilean cities of Santiago de Chile and Concepción. However, the core region of Mapuche territory is the Araucanía in southern Chile, with the city of Temuco as its commercial and political center. In 1883, the Mapuche were subjugated by the Chilean and Argentinean militaries and incorporated into the respective nations. From the middle of the 19th century, many Europeans, most of them Germans, immigrated to the Araucanía. To this day, the southern Chilean Lake District is strongly marked by German immigration. Despite this long period of colonization, the Mapuche succeeded in preserving their culture, giving it new validity through re-traditionalization.

The project partners

LindenLAB 7 was developed together with Juana Paillalef, who is Mapuche herself. Until December 2021 she was director of the Museo Mapuche in Cañete, Chile. She has researched the Linden-Museum’s collections together with other experts as the famous Mapuche silversmith José Antonio Painecura.

Read moreFeature topic in our Collections Online