Such is their prestige that former president Michelle Bachelet honoured Pope Benedict XVI with a little figure from Talagante...

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Polychrome painted ceramics in Talagante

Local customs hand painted.

In the central area of Chile a Cuasimodo has nothing to do with the character created by Victor Hugo, rather it is a float or horse drawn carriage which comes out every year in procession on the first Sunday after Holy Week to celebrate the religious festival which bears its name. A classic element of Chilean popular culture which was converted into the icon of the little polychrome figures made in the small town of Talagante, 35 kilometres south of Santiago. So much so that it was chosen by the then Chilean Head of State Michelle Bachelet as the gift to honour Pope Benedict XVI for their meeting in 2007. Measuring only 20 centimetres, always modelled by hand and painted in bright colours, these sculptures recreate in every detail, images of local customs pertaining to the time they were made. From the Poulterer to the Washer woman, the peanut seller, the shoeshine or social gatherings, food stalls or confessionals. The tradition was begun at the start of the nineteenth century by two sisters of the Jorquera Díaz family, who copied a technique used by the old nuns of the Order of St Clare. However, it has been on the point of disappearing on a few occasions. To avoid that happening, the municipal council organises workshops aimed at sculptors and artisans, who occasionally also sell their figures in their workshops in Santiago.

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