Francisco Rosario woodturning in his shop in Manati Photo: Giovanni Rufino
Puerto Rican Crafts
In 1493, with the discovery of Boriquén (Puerto Rico's
aboriginal name) and subsequently with European colonization, a
fusion of elements of Taino, Spanish and African cultures produced
new craft forms with a personality all their own. American
sovereignty over the island, beginning in 1898, threw into the mix
yet another cultural influence.
This amalgamation of traditions produced varied
expressions of craftsmanship: musical instruments, masks, carved
wooden saints (santos), furniture, rag dolls, textiles,
and drums. After more than 500 years, local handicrafts are
currently at their zenith, thanks to the artistry and industry of
Puerto Rican craftspeople and government agencies that promote
them, such as the Puerto Rican Tourism Company, the Industrial
Development Company (PRIDECO), and the Institute of Puerto Rican
Culture. Even today's Puerto Rican industrial economy is rooted in
manual labor, and despite the influx of modern technology,
handicrafts continue to thrive and create important economic
benefits for the workforce.
Jose (Che) Gonzalez, Hammock maker San Sebastian, PR, September 1, 1999 Photo: Giovanni Rufino
Craft forms documented
by the project include textiles (cattail weaving, hammock weaving,
bobbin lace-making, sleeping-mat weaving and basketry); wood
turning; wooden trays; ceramics; musical instruments (tambourines,
bombas [percussion], cuatros and
bordonúas [string instruments]); miniature
reproductions of boats; religious folk imagery (wooden saint
carving); native bird carvings; rooster carvings; masks; pottery;
and rag dolls.
The project materials comprise a written report and
30 8 x 10 color photographs with accompanying descriptions, 19
showing the artisans themselves and 11 displaying different
handicrafts. Twenty craft forms (14 traditional and 6 contemporary)
were documented. Also included is a map highlighting the routes to
the 21 towns where these craftspeople practice their art.
Interviews with 23 master artisans were conducted and short
background profiles of each artisan are provided, as well as a
short explanation of each of the 20 craft forms. There is also a
Originally submitted by: Carlos Romero-Barcelo, Delegate (At Large).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.