The ruka of the Mapuche

In the sixteenth century, Mapuche lived in windowless thatched dwellings called ruka.  I doubt that these days any more Mapuche live in ruka than Lakota Sioux live in tipi, but they are still built here and there by Mapuche keeping ancient traditions alive.  Remarkably, these simple, quickly built dwellings, keep people dry in a very wet climate.

Here’s one from the lake district of Chile, erected at a place where indigenous crafts were sold….


And here’s another my wife and I came across by the side of the road, during our travels in southern Chile in 2007:

That same trip, we stayed in a campground run by Mapuche, where not only were we the only gringos … we were the only tent campers.  The other guests were Chilean; they were staying in a ruka.  And the Mapuche were in the process of building another ruka for future guests, so that we were fortunate enough to witness the process of construction.  Here’s the view from our tent….In the background is the ruka the chilenos were staying in.  In the foreground is the ruka being built.  And, in the immediate foreground, are some chickens.

Here are Mapuche at work, thatching the side:

And here’s the ruka, both sides thatched:


The roof structure:

Finally, some interiors…. First, one with a Mapuche loom.

A ruka roof (note the smoke hole).

And last, our young host at the Mapuche campground, Carlos, playing a trutruka for us.  Note the fire built in the middle of the ruka floor, by his feet.