The stepped diamond motifs of the Mapuche poncho are so precise that they seem to be tapestry woven; however, the starkly contrasting blue-black and white pattern was actually created through the ikat process. To dye the warp threads in the desired pattern, a dye-resistant paste made from fl our or clay was daubed on the yarns and then wrapped with leaves or wool thread to hold it in place. The bound warp threads were then immersed in a blue dye bath and later put on the loom for weaving.
Specialized weavers work for up to one year to produce these boldly patterned ikat ponchos. Ponchos were important for trade and social exchange, and ikat ponchos were especially valued for the skill required to pattern them. The poncho itself, which was developed in response to the horseman's need for freedom of movement, was associated with leadership and skill in warfare for the Mapuche and the related Ranquel people.