The pottery of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca enters the Unesco list of urgent protection of the intangible cultural heritage


A group of 35 potters representing Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca, together with the Undersecretary of Cultural Heritage, Carolina Pérez, and the head of Transformative Education of UNESCO, Mary Guinn Delaney, followed the live broadcast of the ceremony at the Palace Pereira. Session of the Unesco Intergovernmental Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in the city of Rabat, Morocco, where Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca Ceramics were inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Urgent Safeguard List.

With this inscription all the generations of women who have passed on their knowledge and who have allowed this precious ceramic to remain present in the history of Chile for more than 200 years are recognized throughout the world. Together with this, the unlimited commitment of the State is expressed to carry out the necessary actions to support the work of the communities in pursuit of the safeguarding of the ceramics of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca.

“As the government of Chile we are very proud of this extraordinary achievement and this recognition of the potters of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca. This is a huge step towards the recognition of this extraordinary work, which has been handed down from generation to generation, which also has women as protagonists and which has been taking place for more than 200 years. We are very interested that this tradition is maintained and that there is an interest of the new generations in this craft and tradition. Together with this recognition, the unreserved commitment of the Chilean State is expressed, to implement the necessary actions to support the work of the communities in the pursuit of safeguarding the ceramics of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca”, said the Minister of Cultures, the arts and heritage, Julieta Brodsky Hernández.

Cultural heritage

Mónica Venegas was one of the 35 potters who came to the Pereira Palace, to follow the broadcast from Morocco and celebrate the announcement with emotion.

“We are very proud to be the ones who will start this work, on behalf of all the potters who left, who were invisible and who through their hands told the story of all the women present and of those who are going to train the new generations to this craft,” declared the potter enthusiastically.

The Undersecretary for Cultural Heritage, Carolina Pérez, accompanied the potters at the time of the announcement. “In the public policy of intangible cultural heritage, the state plays a collaborative role and guarantor of cultural rights, with the farmers protagonists in maintaining their knowledge. For this reason we feel the responsibility to attend the request for registration in the Urgent Safeguard List, which allows us to promote a process that helps to articulate different subjects in a common work plan, to strengthen and maintain this intangible heritage over time. culturally enriches our country”, said the undersecretary.

“Unesco appreciates the joint work that the Chilean state has developed with growers’ organizations to preserve the centenary pottery of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca,” said Claudia Uribe, Unesco’s representative in Chile.

Furthermore, he added that “this heritage of the Ñuble region, which is transmitted from generation to generation, is preserved by communities in constant interaction with nature and its history. Inclusion in this list will allow for the execution of an action plan in support of its preservation, given its important contribution to the local identity and cultural diversity of the country”.

Pottery from Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca

After the announcement, the potters went to the La Moneda Palace, where they conducted a guided tour together with the authorities of the Ministry of Culture and Unesco, where they were received by the socio-cultural coordinator of the Presidency, Irina Karamanos. This tour was accompanied by the National Director of Cultural Heritage, Roberto Concha.

This announcement was also followed up in the Ñuble region, where the potters met with local authorities to receive the news of their inclusion in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Urgent Safeguard List.

In 2021, the table for the safeguarding of ceramic knowledge and practices of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca was created, made up of 18 public services and 7 potters’ representatives, who jointly develop a structured work plan to address the problems affecting the continuity of the ceramics of Quinchamalí and Santa Cruz de Cuca. This cultural heritage faces socio-environmental risks and threats concerning the scarcity of raw materials, pollution and health problems, low economic profitability, as well as migration from the countryside to the city and the disinterest of the new generations in dedicating themselves to ceramics given the lack social appreciation of their work.

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