Manufacturing of Mate Burilado (engraved pumpkin)
The Lagenaria vulgaris, also known as mate, is a pumpkin, which grows in the coastal regions of Peru. Mate is the supporting element for the elaboration of the delicate art of mate burilado, that is to say engraved pumpkins. Ancient mate engravings date back to 3 500 years in history.
In our days the valley of Mantaro and especially the district of Cochas Grande and Cochas Chico are the areas with the largest production of mate burilado. A characteristic of the mate in this zone is the extreme miniaturization of the drawings, which sometimes can only be appreciated with the help of a magnifying glass. The technique consists of fine incisions made with a burin into the pumpkin. These incisions represent scenes of great dynamism, often short stories or fantastic allegories. The themes allude to rustic life and also to the animals of the woods and mountains.
Mate is used to produce a large variety of objects: bracelets, earrings, hair slides, caskets, purses, key cases, owls and decorative animals...
I have personally experienced to learn this technique by staying for more than one month with a craftsmen's family, right in the village of Cochas Grande. From this evolved a type of fair and respectful exchange with the whole family – in Cochas Grande family means a large part of the village. With the purchase of one mate you do not only enter into possession of a true and original ethnic work of art, but you also help Cochas Grande and its inhabitants to substitute their old straw roofs with new ones made from tinplate, you pay a part of the kitchen class of Mark, you provide some medicine for Elena... and many other small things.
If you want to give a hand and to have more information do not hesitate to contact me.