One of the aspects of the mapuche culture that synthesises and reflects their world view and their connection to nature is the way they wear clothes, accessories and jewels. These have special symbols, materials or ways to wear them depending on the place people live in or the family they belong to. Gender also plays an important role to giving meaning to clothing and jewellery. While men’s traditional clothes look simple and include few pieces of clothing, such as, a poncho and a txarilogko, women’s clothes have more elements, which include jewellery as a way of expressing special meanings. However, women do not wear jewels all the time, but they have to wear them when there is a logko or a machi around. Surprisingly enough, jewellery is not allowed during their ceremonies.
A txapelakucha is a silver ornament worn by mapuche women. It is a breastplate with the shape of two birds on top. They represent the duality and union of men and women who are in charge of preserving the mapuche traditions through the generations. The links in the chains that hang from the upper part of it represent the origin of nature and steps of life on Earth. Each family may have a different design, or it may vary according to the place where they live. The way it is hung reflects the marital status of a woman.
A txarilogko is a silver headband worn by women, most of which has silver coins hanging from it. This custom of using coins to make it comes from the time when Spaniards paid mapuche people with coins and, as they didn’t use money, women used them as ornamental objects. Its name comes from txari (=”to tie”) and logko (=head). It represents good reasoning and wisdom. Some of these headbands have little pearls called llef-llef. Men also wear a txarilogko, which was originally made of leather or wood fibres. Today, it is made of wool dyed with different colours.
Chamal is the general word to refer to a large, woven square-shaped piece of cloth worn by mapuche people over their shoulders or head. Women wear a black chamal whose name is küpam which covers them to the ankles. Children also wear a chamal, but in contrast to adults, it has not been dyed.
A txariwe is a waistband worn by fertile adult women. It works as a belt holding the küpam. They have different meanings according to their colours and decorations.
A Makuñ is a poncho worn just by men. It is made of wool usually in three main colours: black, brown and grey. Their design indicates the place and lof where men come from. Logkos wear a poncho with symbols which are special for them and which have a meaning for their community.