Some artisans work in copper. This knowledge is transmitted from one generation to another. This technique requires an unique skill, strength and patience. Very nice and different products can be obtained with this hand making art. Examples of things made of copper are saucepans and fondues. San Carlos is very well known thanks to its artisans that work this beautiful material.
The pottery works with the most rustic of the resources, the clay mud, making it a stable material through cooking. The great amount of this material in the valleys has determined the rich variety of ceramic production. This knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation or through workshops given by the master potters. There are different techniques. The colour of the pieces, red or black, depend on the cooking method. For decoration predominates geometric shapes, guards and regional rock art. San Carlos, Cafayate and Cachi are very well known because of their pottery.
Chaguar is an ancient way of weaving. Going north and east of the province, from the andean jungle and to the Chaco forest you will find cultures with more ethnic identity. Despite carrying more than five centuries of intense contact with the dominant culture of their surroundings, facing increasing marginalization and loss of original territories, these towns have preserved their worldview and language. Making crafts for sale has become in the last decades significant in the families economies. The Chaguar technique has been transmitted from one generation to the following. Women work chaguar fiber, like hundreds of years ago. They gathered in the yards watching their children and listening to the choyuyos that foreshadow another hot day in the region, while they patiently weave. Between their products you can find fabrics, bags and belts.
Leather, horn and silver products. Cattle breeding, widely distributed in different areas of the province, acquired a great development since the early days of the conquest with the introduction of European livestock species. Its emerging and characteristic cultural representative is the Gaucho Salteño, farm worker or small land owner, who is skilled in leather working, either tanning, raw or hand fondled, standing out in twisted and useful pieces for rural life. They also make textiles in wool such as blankets and peleros, and horn work. Silver products reached an important development during the colonial period because its relationship with the mining of Upper Peru. Today it is more related to urban centers and the tourist market. Salta ´s gaucho is a skilled maker of saddle pads, ties, muzzles, guardamontes, guardacalzones, handles, knives and knife sheaths.
EL PONCHO SALTEÑO
Our “Poncho Salteño”, red, bull’s blood, with black band, neck and fringe, is defined as the garment of coverage (for cold or heat), already used in ancient times and representative of the higher creole population. It is the blanket that always accompanied every traveler. It is between 1.50 or 1.80 by 1.90 or 2.30, depending on the size of the wearer. It consists of two panels hand sewn with zig zag point or wing fly, bull’s blood red, scarlet red, with black ribbons. A circle of about 0.35 cm. approximately is left open in the center for the head. The neck contour is black like the bun, this is a sign to mourn the death of our General Güemes. At the completion of the garment, it has black fringes hand sewn of about 0.6 cm to 0.9 cm approximately.
Aboriginal people, deep experts of the resources of the forest, have traditionally used wild fibers, wood and leather. In recent decades, when the selling of decorative carvings becomes important in the survival of these people, they incorporate designs and techniques as inlays and combinations of woods which reveal their ancestral skill. They not only use palo santo, they also use hardwoods from the forest, of high quality and a great variety of colours, such as guayacán, the iscayante, quebracho and mistol. In addition, they have learned from the missionaries to make cribs and masterfully carved Christs.
The Puna plateau is situated between 3,500 and 4,000 metres above sea level, framed by high mountains. It is an arid and harsh environment whose inhabitants are mainly engaged in herding camels and agriculture. The llamas, sheep, vicuñas and alpaca from this region provide wool for knitting and weaving. Different products are the result of this art: blankets, chals, ponchos, gloves, socks and scarves. These things are very useful in winter, especially for the mountain regions. They use the natural colours of the wool, especially llama ´s wool because of its softness and warmth. A variety of geometric patterns decorate these garments. Apart from this clothing, decoration objects are produced such as carpets and tapestries.