Skip to main content

Arpillera Panel

Curated Submission
Late-20th century
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
21.4 x 20.7
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Appliquéd, embroidery
Gift of Margaret Gaunt
Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library 1291.00
Panels like this one are known as arpillera and are traditionally made in Chile and Peru. Arpillera translates literally to burlap, they are three-dimensional designs appliquéd and embroidered onto a burlap backing. Most arpillera made today resemble this one, often featuring vivid colours and idyllic scenes with children playing in the shadows of the Andes. These modern arpillera are made for the tourist trade, but the style began as a political protest.
A military coup overthrew the Chilean government in 1973, and the junta quickly declared martial law. Military rule was oppressive, and the government committed grave human rights abuses. Many people, particularly men suspected of political dissent, were kidnapped and “disappeared,” never to return to their families. An organization called Vicaría de la Solidaridad was formed, which began holding workshops to give the families of the disappeared a way to support themselves and work through their emotional trauma. The arpillera style emerged from these workshops, and women began creating anonymous, subversive images with found scraps of cloth. The government did not initially censor these artists because women’s crafts production was seen as inconsequential. The arpillera were exported internationally, providing income for the women’s families and spreading awareness of the government’s repression.
Submit a related artifact
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Email More...

Main sponsors

  • Logo of the Imperial Oil Foundation with accompanying characteristic oval 'Esso' symbol.

Institutional partners