Transformations of Wood in Costa Rican Artisan Traditions



Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity, evident in the variety of tropical woods available for elaboration into a wide range of objects. These include masks, bows and arrows, sculptures, troughs, furniture, yokes, wheels and oxcarts. Cultural diversity in wood products is manifest in diverse places of origin, ethnicities of woodworkers, and knowledge and techniques. Transformations proceed not only in the material—a piece of wood—but also in the sociocultural meanings of the object produced: traditional or innovative, change vs. continuity in domestic, decorative or ritual uses; function in work and play; and broader dimensions of commercialization, sustainability and identity.