Arpilleras from Chile I

by Anabel on 04/06/2007

in Historic Craft


It was a surprise to see this arpillera on anthropologie.

What is a arpillera? Art quilt, a hand-sewn three dimensional textile picture . Arpilleras originated in Chile , where women political prisoners who were held during the Pinochet regime used them to camouflage notes sent to helpers outside. For guards this art wasn´t important, it was a simple “women´s work”.

Now, the topics are others, although for some groups is a claim of the missing person´s right in military dictatorship of Chile .

Fue una sorpresa ver esta arpillera en la web de Anthropologie, ya que es un arte con una historia muy trágica a sus espaldas. Su origen está en Chile, donde las prisioneras de la dictadura de Pinochet lo usaban para comunicarse y encriptar mensajes. Para los guardianes eran simplemente “cosas de mujeres”, de manera que nunca levantó sospechas.

Estos cuadros se realizan con tela, cosiendo a mano una historia, una cultura, una vida… Los temas son múltiple, aunque para algunos grupos sigue siendo una forma de reivindicar los derechos de los desaparecidos durante la dictadura chilena.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lizette June 4, 2007 at 10:38 pm

This is beautiful. My aunt (I’m from Chile) used to have one of a wedding outdoors in the countryside. It was beautiful. Arpilleras have always been a source of inspiration for me. I love to embroider and to applique stories. Thanks for sharing your find.


2 missliz June 5, 2007 at 1:59 am

These are so beautiful when seen in person. The design and intricate stitchwork is truly amazing. If you have a Dia de los Muertos celebration in your area (in October), you might be able to find one hand made locally. That’s where I found mine in the LA area. Thank you for sharing this. Hopefully Anthropolgie will turn others on to these beautiful and important pieces.


3 corina June 5, 2007 at 6:59 am

I am now in Colombia, I visited an artisan’s shop and I did not know the name of this kind of work. Thank you!


4 edgegallery June 5, 2007 at 9:51 am

I remember seeing some arpillera’s when I was at my hospital’s obgyn in California. I was amazed at the detail depicted in miniature dolls, structures and the whole “storyline” of the quilt. Now, I understand where this method comes from…fascinating and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.


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