Chieton Moren is a Museum and Shop in San José, Costa Rica were we, craftsmen and -women of the indigenous communities of Costa Rica, exihibit and sell our product.
The project originated in the Brunka indigenous community some six years ago, with the support of the CEDI, the Centre of Economic Investigations of the Dominican Congregation in San José. Nowadays we are some 150 craftsmen and -women of all of the eight different ethnic groups of the country.
The idea is to show what - as we feel it - is hidden in this country: our rich culture, traditions, arts and crafts are not only part of the history of Costa Rica, but they are still alive in our eight communities. We are perhaps some 100.000 people all together. That's not very much, but this shouldn't be a reason to ignore us or to treat us as second class inhabitants of this country. We are proud of our culture and our today way of life. That is what we want to show in our museum and to keep alive by selling our crafts. "Chieton Moren" means "A Fair Deal" in Brunka language. That's exactly what we want. Chieton Moren is all about identity and dignity.
The small museum has a display of our eight different communities. The visitor will find information about our culture, our way of life, our crafts and how we make them. This is not a history museum, not an academic thing. It's a direct encounter and an invitation. You'll read what we - in our own words - want you to know about us. The lay-out was made in collaboration with the staff of the National Museum. There is a very accurate map of Costa Rica pointing out our territories. You'll find the info you need just in case you want to pay us a visit. You're welcome !
Sales in the shop are direct, from producer to customer. Nobody, apart of the craftsmen and -women, receives any profit from the sales in the store. The shop works with volunteers only, who are in charge of the complete management of the project. The sale prizes include a small commission in top of the prize defined by the craftsmen in order to help us to pay the very reduced operation costs.
Every object has a small label with the name of the craftsman or -woman and the territory where it is coming from.
So, if you want to take with you, as a souvenir or a gift, something beautiful, original, authentic and affordable, Chieton Moren is the place to be.
The different ethnic groups
The Brunka community is represented by the territories of Rey Curré and Boruca. We are best known for the colourfull cotton textiles, handmade on a backstrap loom, and for our masks, made from one piece of balsa wood. These are used during the end-of-the-year celebrations called "The dance of the Devils". We lost the daily use of our language, but in the schools we recently started to teach it again.
The Teribe community lives in the territory of Térraba. We are neighbours of the Brunka, in the south of the country, near Buenos Aires. We make jewelry : necklaces, earrings and bracelets. All is handmade with natural materials: seeds, stones, pieces of wood. We also carve and colour the jícara. That's the fruit of the jícaro tree. We know our language and are organizing us to use it more often.
The Huetar community lives in the territories of Zapatón and Quitirrisí. In Chietón Moren we are present with about ten crafstwomen from Quitirrisí. We make baskets, kitchen utensils and ornaments made of leaves of palm trees and palm shrub and of lianas. Of all the groups we are the closest to San José and once were the biggest community in the country. Nowadays we are a few thousand only.
The Chorotega community lives in Matambú territory and in the village of San Vicente on the Nicoya peninsula, were we have our ecomuseum. All together we are a small community in Costa Rica, but there are a lot of Chorotega in Nicaragua and in Chiapas, México. We are well known for our pottery made from local materials and dyes, a tradition that goes back to long before Spanish colonisation.
The Ngöbe people live in the communities of Conte Burica, Abrojos, Alto Río Claro, Altamira, Progreso, Alto San Antonio and Casona, all in the south of Costa Rica pacific, close to the Panama border. A lot of our people live in the north of Panama, where they have the name of Ngöbe-Buglé. We speak our own language and our women wear traditional dresses. We make hats and chacras. These are bags made from pita or burillo, a very old tradition.
The Cabecar community lives in extended areas in Talamanca, a mountain region at the atlantic part of the country. In Chietón Morén we are represented by the women of the Palmera village of Bajo Chirripó. We live quite isolated and in the rainy season you can cross the river only by walking over the small bridge. We speak our own language and teach it in the new college. We make crafts from mastate. Mastate is the bark of the mastate tree.
The Bribri live at both sides of the central mountain area, in the south of the country, close to Panama border. We speak our own language and are present in the Chietón Morén project with craftsmen and -women from the villages of Watsi and Kashabri and from the territory of Salitre. We make jewelry and crafts from the jicaro fruit and the coconut shell. If you want to learn our language: a textbook is available in Chietón Morén.
The Maleku live in the northern lowlands, near Guatuso, in three villages that we call "palenques" : El Sol, Margarita and Tongibe. When you are in the Arenal area, it's not so complicated to find us. We are a small group, only a few still know our language, but we teach it again to our kids. We carve and paint jicaros of all sizes, make drums from balsa wood and make "rain sticks", sticks of bamboo that sounds like rain when you balance them.