Chiloe Today ......
Chiloe is an island part of the Chilean territory, but it might as well be addressed as a very specific part of Chile or well, a nation of its own. Reminding us those strange regional particularities that are found in Spain, Chiloe is a world of its own. Magical, marvellous and amazing, Chiloe is a fabulous spot in the world. Today Chiloe has a unique personality resulting of the particular mix of indigenous and Hispanic traditions that take a one of a kind form in the island world. Broad and everlasting coasts by the Pacific ocean, strong winds and wild woods provide Chiloe with a completely different scenario if compared to Chile's mainland. Many say it has a lot to do with Galicia in Spain. Located at about 1200 km south of Santiago de Chile this land is a land of charm and magic. Gorgeous green mountains, immense cliffs, a wild ocean shore and a constant rain provide this mystical island with an extra touch of mysticism. Chiloe's dialect is pretty different form that of the mainland, specially because they incorporated several veliche words, coming from the mapudungun dialect spoken by the Huilliches Indians who populated the region long before the Spanish conquest. This early settlers not only left their language as a legacy to the Creole generations, but they most certainly left behind a broad range of crafts, arts and beliefs. Their artistic influence can be appreciated in the many varieties of stone carving. Known a Cancahua this blackish arsenic stone is original from Ancud, and it is most commonly used for crafting. Sacred art in Chiloe is a living proof of cultural syncretism and cross culturalism. Chiloe's religious art is rudimentary, disproportioned, and rigid, and some would even classify it as naïve, but overall it is richly deep in spiritual terms. However Chole's artists did not only work with stone, wood is one of the strongest and lasting materials if well treated and settlers did know how to. The most utilized woods were from cypress, the larch, plum and the cinnamon tree. Chiloe's current religion features two main visual expressions which are the tall wooden slim towers and the broad imaging that ornaments altars and town patron celebrations. While Catholic religion is early established during the conquest of these lands, removing Chono and Veliche gods from their main center, most of these local religious influence remains under different forms, usually these were incorporated to a Christian shell keeping the original powers of the indigenous gods. After a long Jesuit Gospel period, Franciscans took the missionary labor under their charge, however the Chilota School of Religious Architecture in wood remain. To this day there are at least 400 of those Colonial Wooden outstanding churches remain. Some in better shape than others, but those who remained, featuring nearly 300 years of age are some of the world's oldest wooden constructions.
Bob Frassinetti, Buenos Aires, Argentina.