January 15, 2012

0099 CHILE - Mapuche, people of the land

If sending postcards would be a profession, Hernán would be in the elite professionals and on his business card would be engraved the title magister chartum illustratae (or something like that). It's hard to describe the joy that I felt when I received the 3 postcards from him. Are exactly those that I wanted, and looks better than I hoped, which, you must admit it, rarely happens. Of the 8 stamps only one repeats it, in other words I received 7 different stamps. In addition, Hernán has bonded on the back a sticker with the flag of the community it illustrates the postcard, in this case Mapuche. The text was composed on the principle non multa, sed multum, saying how much could be said in so small a space. The writing is so legible, as though it was printed, although obviously it wasn't, and the date is specified, in the event that the stamp wouldn't be clear. May want more a postcards collector? Probably not. Gracias desde lo más profundo de mi corazón, Hernán, y que usted tenga de las postales más bellas del mundo.

Hernán says the following about the postcard: "It shows a lonko, a Mapuche leader. He’s playing the cultrun, a holy drum (not anybody can play it). He’s also wearing a poncho and a headband called trarilonko with a typical pattern design of the Mapucho textile. He’s also wearing some branches od foye, the holy tree of the mapuche. A branch of this is a symbol of peace. The kultrun drum has a design that depicts the universe accordding to the Mapuche vision. They are the most numerous native people in Chile. They speak mapudunglan, a beautiful language!"

What could I add? Nothing about the postcard, maybe just something about the history, culture, and the present of the Mapuche (people of the land), which, according to official estimates, include a population of about 1.7 million in Chile and Argentina (2/3 in Argentina, 1/3 in Chile), a figure denied by them, who claim to be one million only in Chile (40% of its in Santiago de Chile). With a controversial origin, placed by historians in North America, Central America or even Polynesia, these people has managed to stop the expansion of the Inca Empire to the South in the 15th century, despite the lack of state organization. In the second half of the 16th century, when arrived the Spanish conquistadors (who called them Araucanos - a term considered derogatory by some), mapuche occupied the valleys between the Itata and Toltén rivers, but later large groups migrated eastward into the Andes and pampas, even managing the araucanization of Patagonia.

In line with their territorial origin the Mapuche define themselves as: Puelche - people of the east, Pikunche - people of the north, Williche - people of the south, Pewenche - people of the pewen, Lafkenche - people of the sea, Nagche - people of the plains, or Wenteche - people of the valleys. After the Spanish subjugated the Pikunche, the Mapuche of the area which the Spanish called it Araucanía fought against the invaders for over 300 years, their territory belonging de jure to Spain and afterwards to Chile, but being de facto independent. The cost to the Spanish army during the Araucanian War was around 50.000 soldiers and an estimated 60.000 indios auxiliares, some spanish historians referring to Mapuche soil as the Spanish soldiers cemetery of The Americas.

After Argentina and Chile were proclaimed independent republics (in 1816, respectively 1818), and Spanish and royalist forces were defeated, the treaties of 1641 between the Spanish Crown and the Mapuche nation, which defined the frontier between the two (which meant the recognition of independence of the Mapuche), were abrogated. But the Mapuche resistance never ceased, between 1860 and 1862 being founded a Kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia. At the end of the 19th century Chilean and Argentinian armies seized the Mapuche territory, a dispossession recorded in Chilean history as the Pacification of Araucania, in Argentina as the Campaign of the Desert, and in Mapuche tradition as La Ultima Matanza - The Last Massacre.

In recent years, the Chilean government has tried to redress some of the inequities of the past, officially recognized in 1993 the Mapuche people, and seven other ethnic minorities, as well as the Mapudungun language and culture. On the other hand, since the Chilean transition to democracy, the Mapuche conflict has grown, this communities demands revolve mainly around the jurisdictional autonomy, return of ancestral lands (exploited by multinational companies) and cultural identity. Numerous incidents such as land occupations and demonstrations have occurred in Araucania in last years, and the deaths of a few activists of organisation Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco inflamed the atmosphere.

In 1991 the Mapuche unified their traditional government in 1991 in the National Conference of Temuco, the Aukin Wallmapu Ngulam (Council of all the lands) leading currently the Mapuche People. In 1992, in the V Centenary of the discovery of America, the Mapuche people adopted a national flag that was presented to the Spanish king in his visit to Chile. The flag, based on the Nagche regional flag, is essentially a horizontal tricolor of light blue, green and red with two additional black stripes, above and bellow, each charged with a row of andean crosses (or incaic crosses, a.k.a. chakana), and on the center, overlaping the three main stripes, a yellow disc charged with the devices usually painted on kultrun. These are divided in quarters by four cardinal radial segments forked at the tip and on each quarter an astronomical symbol.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of a set issued on September, 24, 2010, and named Antofagasta saluda al Bicentenario (Antofagasta salutes the Bicentennial - September 18, 2010, commemorates the beginning of the Independence process in Chile, with the first Government Junta of Chile). The 6 stamps of the series (all with same denomination, 500 CLP) shows also the nature and the new and old architecture of this port city located in northern Chile:
• Natural monument La Portada - it’s on the postcard
• Fishing terminal
• Avenida Costanera
• Historic District
• Huanchaca Ruins
• Antofagasta Night
La Portada (The Gateway) is a natural arch on the coast, at 18 km north of Antofagasta,  one of 15 natural monuments included among the protected areas of Chile.

The other two belong to the Valparaíso, Patrimonio de la Humanidad set, issued on July 27, 2010, whitch contain the follows:
• Lyon Palace (20 CLP) - it’s on other postcard
• Polanco Palace (20 CLP) - it’s on other postcard
• British Arch (10 CLP) - it's on other postcard
• Monument to the Heroes of Iquique (10 CLP) - it's on other postcard
• Artillería Funicular (50 CLP) - it’s on other postcard
• Polanco Funicular (50 CLP) - it’s on other postcard
• Trolleybus (100 CLP) - it’s on this postcard
• Trolleybus (100 CLP) - it’s on other postcard

sender: Hernán (direct swap)
sent from Santiago (Chile), on 05.01.2012

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