Gladys Dosape Chiqueno
Medium of Work:
Glady Dosape Chiqueno is a member of the indigenous Ayoreo tribe, which is semi-nomadic and native to the great Chaco Forest which spans areas of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. For centuries, Ayoreo women have learned weaving traditions from their mothers and grandmothers. Chiqueno, too, preserves an ancient fiber artform based on the teachings of her ancestors, while also leaving her own indelible mark on everything she makes.
Along with members of the artist collective Cheque Oitedie—which Chiqueno helped found—the artist uses the fibers of a local bromeliad called dajudie. The plant is a relative of the pineapple which grows freely in the Ayoreo homelands. It has been cultivated in Chiqueno’s community for its fiber since 1998.
First, the flesh of the leaves is scraped off with machetes, and the fiber is cleaned. After drying, it is thigh-spun into twine with the ashes of termite mounts which act as a smoothing agent and a mordant for dyeing. To add color, artists use natural dyes, or sometimes procure organic pigments from nearby Santa Cruz city. Once the dying process is complete, the bags are carefully woven, using a needle technique known as “looping.” The artisan begins with a single thread, using her knee as a work surface. From there, she begins laboriously weaving items using her imagination, and a needle.
Cheque Oitedie Cooperative’s mission is to strengthen the Ayoreo women’s cultural identity through the promotion of traditional weaving. “I cannot imagine my life without working with dajudie,” says Chiqueno. “I love my work, because for me is like breathing. I will stop when I will die, just like the elder women of our community before me.”