Chambira – Peruvian Jungle Sustainable Materials

Palm trees have played a very important role in the daily life of Amazonian communities. Its different uses have been associated mainly with basic needs such as housing construction, food, the manufacturing of utilitarian crafts, medicines, fertilizers, fuel, clothing, etc. The weaving technique together with the ancestral knowledge about the plants that belong to their natural ecosystem and the dyes that they produced, allowed the Amazonian population not only to enter the world of color and expression, but also to find the roots and identity of each people, expressed in the designs of their fabrics and body paintings.

Chambira is a typical palm of the Amazon, we can find it in tropical forests of Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil. In the Peruvian Amazon it is found in the low jungle, especially in the Department of Loreto. Although its growth is slow, after three years its fiber can already be used to make articles that do not require a hard fiber. At six years of age the fiber of the leaves has already matured, becoming more resistant and hard. The spinning of the raw fiber, an activity known locally as “fiber twisting”, is carried out manually. For this, good hygiene of the hands and legs is necessary, since the thread will slide over them.

To ensure that logging does not deplete the resource, communities or groups of artisans should organize and make agreements on the use of it and its conservation. These agreements must contemplate the prohibition of the felling of the palm tree, the respect of the populations close to the community, the repopulation of the species where it has been decimated, etc. The organized groups formed or the community itself as a whole, will be responsible for supervising and enforcing the agreements taken together.

The Chambira or Astrocaryum and its fiber have great potential in the growing tourist market of the Northern Jungle region. The recovery of traditional weaving and dyeing will not only mean a revaluation of Amazonian culture and indigenous culture in particular, but it will also enable rural artisans to achieve better income and working conditions. Among the main natural dyes used to dye this fiber we can mention Achiote, Coffee, Retama, Ojo de Vaca, Huito, Mango among other herbs, fruits and species present in its natural ecosystem.

Sources:

Manos Trabajadoras tejiendo la Chambira https://bit.ly/349jwly

Guía Chambira AECID https://bit.ly/3abB1pd Palmas Ecuatorianas https://bit.ly/2KpBZmS

Amazon Forest Store https://bit.ly/387I8MC

Global Giving Support native artisans & rainforest in the Amazon https://bit.ly/3gOjrZC

El Hilo Conductor Tradición y Moda en el Perú Autora: Olga Zaferson Aranzaens

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