One of the Progressio and partner organizations objectives is encouraging traditional indigenous culture, beliefs, and lifestyle. Although many local practices have merged with Spanish culture or were heavily influenced by neighbouring countries, some people managed to keep their heritage and even make it a source of income. This week we got an opportunity to visit a local artisans’ workshop and learn a traditional craft making technique which is used to create jewellery, kitchen utensils, boxes, and many other useful things almost entirely from pine needles.
Such activity is relatively inexpensive and easy to learn, however it allows making a variety of objects with infinite amount of designs – the only limit is the richness of artists’ imagination. However, it is not only an artistic expression, but more importantly an essential and sometimes the only source of money. An elderly woman who was teaching us to how to make bracelets proudly announced that selling these handicrafts constitutes the main income for her whole family. The role of being the main earner not only gives her the responsibility to look after her kin, but also ensures a significant amount of freedom and financial independence – something that many Nicaraguan women struggle to achieve.
At the same time it is a very social practice; the technique is learned not from books, but by working with others. Right now Mozonte town has around ten artisans who use pine needles, however they are teaching others in the indigenous community and it can be expected that in the near future this number will grow. Small business initiatives like this are always important in order to secure income for the most vulnerable populations. In the case of pine-needle crafts, it also may have a potential to become a signature production niche attracting tourists and putting Mozonte on a map as a place where one can get original earrings no one else has.
Blog by Agne Skrebyte. Photo by Sian Moir.