Ecuador is a country that possesses one of the greatest diversities of all America, its multiple territories are based on a varied geography, throughout its history a variety of cultural and productive forms have been consolidated. This land possesses an enormous amount of wealth in craftsmanship, substantiated in the generous use of techniques that have been passed on from generation to generation for over ten thousand years.
The coastal area is nourished with the possibility of raw materials emanating from marine products, its wealth lies in the ability to generate unique items; weaving natural fibers, which clearly highlights the fine fabric straw hat, jewelry made from seashells, pottery, and costume jewelry with vegetative ivory.
The Andes have cities characterized by their deep craft tradition, to which various indigenous and peasant communities with a long and generous tradition, are added; the Ecuadorian mountain range region possesses a unique profusion in the production of textile, pottery, jewelry, wood carving, shawl straw; with productive processes that substain sober tradition, but are open to the demands of new times.
The communities along the Amazon take advantage of their mastered wealth of raw materials from the rainforest and transform them patiently from innovative processes that allow the offering of needed products in contemporary times, in this way the use of fine woods for carving or building objects with ceramics and pottery painted with the delicacy of human hair which constitutes the elements of their vast wealth.
For the CIDAP it has been of profound reason to coordinate the development of the National Catalogue of Ecuador’s Handicrafts as an inter-institutional work effort of several public agencies for the purposes of creating a tool to be handled by the 31 commercial offices that Ecuador maintains around the world.
It has been fundamental to develop an accurate understanding of the character that this present Catalog should have, especially due to authorities in the international market, which demand considering only those craftsman that meet a series of standards demanded by foreign trade, selection processes have been harsh and arduous having been necessary to create an independent jury, composed by the Italian expert, Gabriele Coen, the Ecuadorian Commercial Attaché in Milan, Fernando Moreno, and the Ecuadorian expert, Adriana Alomía, in order to carry out a strict process of craftsman selection at a national level; the key elements are defined to be considered in the independent technical evaluation: The superb handling of techniques in relation to the production processes, that could be considered as excellence in the art; quality standards in production and constant production volumes, openness to establish dialogue processes with foreign trade agents (designers, buyers, sales representatives), due to the fact that the international market demands the generation of specific objects for niche markets that are clearly defined.
This catalog is a huge effort in coordination and dialogue among distinct and different entities, but the CIDAP has seen them as complementary, and from this process results a wonderful tool that visualizes the essence of this land.
Juan Pablo Serrano
Executive Director CIDAP
The National Institute of Popular and Solidarity Economy - IEPS is a public entity at the service of the public, that coordinates, organizes and implements plans, programs and projects that contribute to the development and improvement of working conditions and living actors of the Popular and Solidarity Economy, and the construction of a Social and Solidarity Economic System that prioritizes equitable and supportive redistribution of surplus.
Thus, the IEPS directs its efforts to boost initiatives and endeavors of these actors whose potential lies in the diversity of organizational forms, through which the dynamics of the current economic system are articulated; the handicraft sector being a major contribution to productive development.
For this reason, it decided to join efforts with the Inter-American Center for Popular Arts and Crafts - CIDAP, with the purpose of creating a Digital Catalog that promotes the work of Ecuadorian craftsman to the world, revealing the diversity of cultures and artistic expressions to people of other regions. In these, craft works made in different branches such as: Pottery and ceramics; Wood and natural fruits; Weaving with natural fibers; Textiles and Handicrafts made from organic material fruits and vegetables, are shown.
The IEPS also addresses other needs of EPS actors, through the strengthening of their productive capacities; facilitating their participation in public purchase processes; orienting their access to financial services; fostering the commercialization and sale of its products and services through promotional events and boosting their participation in projects as Vulcanizer Associate, Shoulder to Shoulder and programs like Spinning Development, that seek the articulation and creation of decent work.
History, tradition, and the geographical development are one of the main assets for which the Ecuadorian handicraft stands out. It’s specifically differentiated by the type of materials used in the manufacturing process and design’s authenticity created by the craftsman’s hands.
The Institute for the Promotion of Exports and Investments PRO ECUADOR, under the Ministry of Foreign Trade, promotes the Ecuadorian exportable supply of various sectors supporting the productive matrix change, attracting foreign investment and promoting non-oil exports.
The handicraft sector is essential for promoting culture and the ancestral history of the country, hence PRO ECUADOR, is the main ally so that through the services it offers, can open business opportunities in international markets.
Besides receiving counseling assistance, training and workshops, entrepreneurs can come to strengthen trade ties in promotional activities such as fairs, business rounds, business missions, and personalized agendas between exporters and importers and commercial opportunities. It has managed to promote handicraft in international fairs such as, FORMEX in Sweden -Stockholm and New York Now in the United States. Additionally, it has promoted the sector in the 40th International Exhibition of Handicrafts in Chile, Ecuador Bi-national Meeting - Peru and Business Matchmaking.
Combining the creative indigenous and the ancestral heritage, the Ecuadorian craftsmen express their feelings through their hands, creating crafts like: paintings, production of textiles, necklaces, canvas and other pieces which demonstrate grand creativity. In Ecuador the handicrafts can be appreciated in all of its regions.
Among the products that are most featured, include: the fine fabric straw hat, leather-based articles, weaving natural fibers and jewelry, without putting aside the wooden handicrafts, ceramics and other materials native to the country.
At the moment, Ecuadorian craftsmanship is appreciated in many countries for its originality and a popular manifestation of its roots reflects the feelings of this culturally rich country.