The Dominican Republic boasts the most beautiful and perfect butterflies.
Today, skilled Dominican craftsmen are turning hard coconut shells into the most colorful art work by reproducing the beauty of local butterflies.
The hand-made pieces dazzle with their beauty, so much so that in 2006 the finished butterfly products received the UNESCO Seal of Excellence in the handicrafts category.
The butterflies are produced by the Arteco company, a family-run business in operation for three generations.
These handmade pieces dazzle with their beauty. The final product perfectly reproduces the shape and color of real butterflies.
The company artisans have managed to adapt the hard shell of the coconut to this particular product, thanks to their experience in the arts and crafts business.
Currently they produce over 150 different butterfly designs in the shape of key rings, candlesticks, gift boxes, pins and wind chine, among others.
Production of Coconut shell butterflies
Arteco buys tons of coconut gourds from local vendors and, once in the factory, workers will handpick the shells that will be used to create the butterflies.
Another popular item produced by Arteco is the “Catalana” flower, also made from coconut shells.
The craftsmen polish the gourd to achieve a natural shine, and then proceed to design and paint the shells with brilliant Caribbean colors.
These coconut shell butterflies can be purchased at most tourism gift shops, as well as in the Arteco shop, located in “El Higuerito” section, in the road that leads to the town of Moca, situated some 15 minutes south of Santiago, the country’s second largest city.
More than just a souvenir
To Dominicans, butterflies are much more than colorful objects. In the Dominican Republic, butterflies also symbolize the struggle of three sisters, Minerva, Patria and Maria Teresa Mirabal, who devoted their lives to the struggle against the bloody dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).
The sisters were members of an underground movement where they were known as the “Butterflies”. They were assassinated on November 25, 1960, following the orders of the dictator Trujillo.
In their honor the UN General Assembly, on December 17, 1999, designated the day they were assassinated as the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.”
For more information on ARTECO, please write to Arteco.taller @ hotmail. com, or phone 809-485-0700 and 809-844-3020.