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Atenea (Concepción)

versión On-line ISSN 0718-0462


SKEWES, Juan C  y  GUERRA, Debbie E. On trees and people: The presence of the oak (Nothofagus obliqua) in the Andes mountain life of the Mapuche People in the Valdivia river basin. Atenea (Concepc.) [online]. 2015, n.512, pp.189-210. ISSN 0718-0462.

The Chilean oak tree (Nothofagus obliqua) presence in the Mapuche everyday and ritual life is scarcely addressed in the specialized literature. However there is, in the Mapuche cultural background, a strong identification between person and tree, an identity that deserves attention and transdisciplinary collaboration for its study. The adoption of this perspective allows us to rediscover a relationship that explains the relevance of this tree species in a context of unquestionable cultural transcendence in the rituals of death. The roble (oak) becomes prominent in three moments of the funerary process: in the disposal of the dead in a funeral canoe or wampo made out of roble (oak), in the chemamull or wooden sculpture made out of the same wood, and in the descansos or domestic altars built by a roble (oak) where interactions between the living and the dead take place. In focusing the analysis on the species of roble, the relations between Mapuche and Chileno gain renewed prominence in terms of environmental history. Faced with permanent reorganization of the land, new conflicts arise among different interest groups whose cultural projects are articulated around tree species. Finally, the need of addressing issues that are understudied is stressed, contributing to improve current understanding of cultural practices that have important material dimensions.

Palabras clave : Environmental history; Mapuche culture; woods; Chilean oak tree - roble (Nothofagus obliqua or pellín).

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