The commune of Doñihue is located in the region of Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins, in the central zone of Chile, in the province of Cachapoal. Its name comes from compounding the two Mapudungun (Mapuche language) words Deñimg (“eyebrows”), and Hue (“place”), due to which Doñihue means “Place of Eyebrows”. This name is thought to have been designated by the original native peoples, because the chain of hills surrounding the territory has eyebrow-shaped crests. The commune has an area of 88 Km2 and according to the 2012 census, it has an approximate number of 20,000 inhabitants. It has two large urban centers: Doñihue and Lo Miranda, with the sectors of Camarico, Rinconada de Doñihue, Plazuela, California and Cerrillos also standing out.
The territory of Doñihue is located between the chain of hills of the Cordillera de la Costa mountain range and the Cachapoal River, forming a valley covered with native flora: litres, boldos and soapbarks, among others, which due to their perennial nature cover the landscape with a leafy green blanket throughout the entire year.
This commune is characterized by being eminently agricultural, since its inhabitants develop activities relating to the land and animal husbandry. There are several places of tourist interest in this valley, whether for their cultural heritage or due to the natural bounties they offer.
One of the most important features of the population in the commune is its high participation in different kinds of territorial and functional organizations, which bring together over 150 creators, who are craftspeople of different areas of craftsmanship work: producers of artisan liquor (Chacolí, Spirits), clay pottery, basketry, stone carving, wood carving, leathercraft and chamanto weave. Among them, the “Agrupación de Chamanteras de Doñihue” (Association of Chamanto Craftswomen of Doñihue) stands out, gathering 40 artisans from the commune, with another twenty artisans working independently
The word “Chamanto” comes from the Mapudungun word “Chamall”, which means wool manta. The chamanto is a two-sided poncho or ornamental manta, traditional in central Chile, woven with silk and wool yarn, one of whose sides is light, while the other is dark, that has a band along its entire edge. It is considered a traditional huaso (rural man) garment, and as such, it is worn to rodeos, folklore presentations and other special occasions. It demands great keenness, due to the fineness of the silk and wool yarns, in addition to the complexity of the illustrations drawn by the crossing of the yarns.
What makes this garment different from the rest of the mantas is its reversibility, since both of its sides are well-finished, only differing on the edges of the piece. Traditionally, the dark side of this garment is worn during the day; while the light side is worn at night. Among the figures decorating the chamanto are copihues (Chilean bell flowers), ears of barley and wheat, blackberries, bunches of grapes, fuchsias, pansies and different kinds of birds that are part of the national fauna. This textile is an element of identity of the commune of Doñihue, contributing to the image the locality is associated with, being the most important and significant trade in the commune, both socially and culturally. It is thanks to this textile garment that the commune is recognized on a regional, national and international level.
In Camarico, a sector in Doñihue, are the Chamanteras (Chamanto Craftswomen), who are mostly grouped in the aforementioned organization. These artisans have maintained the tradition of weaved huaso garments for about 200 years, a tradition that fuses indigenous and Hispanic wisdom. From generation to generation, they have transmitted their knowledge and love for these customs to their children, who today carry the banner of a practice that refuses to die.