Culture, Multiculture, Music, Our People

“Raíces”: “Roots” or the art of craftsmanship

The name says it all; almost 700 Nicaraguan artisans united in one group, whose president, Silvia Torres, identifies as ambassador for the popular culture of the most extensive country in Central America.

 

   Francisco G. Navarro

 

Speaking to Prensa Latina, Torres explained that the organisation, founded in 1994 and legalised in 2000, is an association of artisans with a presence throughout the Pacific region of Nicaragua.

The group is also member and leader of the network of artisans within the framework of the Association of Caribbean States.

Camoapa, Estelí, San Juan de Limay, Solentiname, Masaya, the Pueblos Blancos, Condega, and of course Managua, are intertwined in the Nicaraguan artisan geography that the Raíces Group brings together.

The items produced by the association include embroidered textile, hammocks, tapestries, ceramics, marmol, furniture made from balsa wood and other smaller wooden items; traditional embroideries, leather goods, handbags, toys, wines and sweets.

The ceramics from Mozonte, a town near the border with Honduras, the hand-woven pine fibres and pita fibre for the famous jipi japa hat, both made in Camoapa, represent referential points for the handicrafts produced in Nicaragua.

This could also be said of the ceramics manufactured by older women in Ducuale Grande, municipality of Condega, in the northern department of Estelí.

The Villa de Limay or San Juan de Limay is located in the same territorial demarcation, recognised by the works sculpted in marmol stone.

This type of work ranges from a very small piece to two-metre high sculptures worthy of a place at any international competition, according to the president of Grupo Raíces.

Cuba, which once opened the doors of its International Fair (FIART), Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil and Central America constitute the stations of the export map of Nicaraguan crafts drawn up by the Raíces group in its two decades of management.

Their own hallmark

The president of Raíces had the answer on the tip of her tongue: the pre-Columbian and utilitarian ceramics is the hallmark that identifies the Nicaraguan craftsmanship.

“Our pottery is very ancestral, and we can’t forget the beautiful hammocks with their precious embroideries”, says Silvia Torres with pride.

It’s something that other countries do not have, such as textiles from Guatemala, carts from Costa Rica, wood and embroidery from El Salvador, and Lenca pottery from Honduras, the most beautiful in the world for its history, colour and identity, reviewing the regional hallmarks.

Knowing their hallmark, the Nicaraguan artisans know where to compete and where not to, but at the same time they are confident that there is more diversity in their products than in other nearby countries.

The leader of Raíces recognised the government’s support in her management and reaffirmed what she always tells the media: the members of the collective consider themselves ambassadors of the country’s popular culture.

What she does believe necessary is a more comprehensive measure of how much the artisanal sector contributes to the Gross Domestic Product of Nicaragua. “I think they only measure hammocks and a little bit of ceramics,” Torres says as she says goodbye to Prensa Latina to attend the Raíces stand at an international expo in Managua. (PL)

(Translated by Lucy Daghorn) – Photos: Pixabay

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