Doñihue, O'Higgins Region, Chile
The Art of Chamanto WeavingChamantos are ornate silk ponchos that the Chilean "huasos," cowboys, adorn for the rodeos that take place in Chile's central valley from September to April each year. The origin of this weaving tradition dates back to almost two hundred years ago and was brought from Spain.
The weavers who make these chamantos and ponchos are called "chamanteras," and outside of Rancagua, there's a small dusty town called Donihue where the tradition has been kept alive. There are no schools where this task may be taught: the secrets of the loom are passed on from generation to generation.
Chamantos are woven on large looms that separate hundreds of thin silk threads (or wool in the case of ponchos). A hardwood shuttle prevents the threads from being tangled, and a small spindle complements the weaving process. Making a chamanto may take three months or more of full-time work due to its intricacy of patterns like copihues (Chilean national flower) or grapevine leaves. Both the chamanto and poncho are straight one-piece ponchos that cover the huasos’ shoulders down to their waist. However, the huasos only wear chamantos when they dress up for rodeo competitions.
Chamantos are true works of art, and the rodeo tradition in Chile would not exist without the "chamanteras" who dress their cowboys.