Traditions and Beliefs
While it is impossible to capture every trait of a race of people, the following list is a simple attempt to identify several of the most prominent, characteristics that illustrate the Mapuche culture:
- A profound feeling of attachment to the land and the nature. A simple illustration of this is through the word “mapuche”, which in mapudungum, their indigenous language, means "people of the land". The word “mapu” or land is essential to the Mapuche culture since it is inextricably linked to the supernatural and the sacred. To Mapuches, land is not the property of any one individual but instead is an asset shared by the whole community.
- Mapuche culture is rich in folklore, art and music, with special musical instruments such as the “Trutruca” and the “Kultrun” used during ceremonies.
- “Mudai” and “chichi” are traditional Mapuche drinks that are still widely served in indigenous communities.
- Within the social structure of the Mapuche culture the chief or “Lonko” is responsible for his family and community.
- Mapuches view the world as a perfect equilibrium between “Ngenechen” or the God of life, creation and love, and “Wekufu” or the God of death and destruction. The arrival of the Spanish conquerors in Chile, who came in search of gold but ended up enslaving indigenous people and invading their territories, was attributed to “Wekufu”.
- Mapuche spirituality often mixes Christian teachings with Mapuche mystical ideas.
- Women have fulfilled important roles in indigenous religious life and in passing on cultural identity. Women serve as community spiritual leaders, called “Machis” if they are connected to the Gods of life or “Kalkus” if connected to the Gods of death.