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Territory, nature, and identity: the concepts behind the Santiago 2023 medals

All the medals have a copper heart and are decorated by a traditional Mapuche ornament: the trapelacucha.

The expected unveiling of the medals to be won by the athletes who will stand on the different podiums of the future Pan American and Parapan American Games took place in the middle of the Atacama Desert. All the above wasn't a coincidence, but the representation that the main award of the continental event comes precisely from the Chilean territory’s inner part.

From the Centinela mine, in the Sierra Gorda district, Antofagasta Region, a blasting started the unveiling ceremony with the concept “copper heart”, because the center of the medals is made of the country's main export mineral. “Each medal is different from the other, because they’re made one by one with an artisanal patina or oxidation process. No two medals are the same,” explained Verónica Lobos, head of the Brand, Identity, and Look of the Games area who’s in charge of the project.

The medals have a different color according to each competition. In the Pan American Games, the heart and ribbon are turquoise; while in the Parapan American Games, with the legend ‘Santiago 2023’ in Braille, they acquire a bluish tone. “These tones are explained by the different states of copper oxidation and being in the center, we wanted to give the idea that it’s bathed by the typical Olympic metals: gold, silver, and bronze,” added the designer.

All the medals are embellished, where the metal and the ribbon meet, with a typical Mapuche silversmith figure: the trapelacucha (picture from: Antofagasta Minerals).


All medals are decorated with a trapelacucha (needle brooch in English), an ornament used by the Mapuche people that symbolizes the union between men and women. In addition, on the back of the medals there are elements that symbolize the different national territories.

“There are wind turbines in the north, the funiculars are a typical postcard of Santiago, and the pehuén or araucaria is a typical tree of the south and the native culture. This, combined with cross-cutting elements such as the Andean Mountains and the condor, gives us a piece that is representative of our country,” explained Verónica Lobos.

Between both modalities of the Santiago 2023 Games, a total of 4,908 medals are expected to be awarded, divided into 1,559 gold, 1,559 silver, and 1,790 bronze. The latter due to the fact that several sports award semifinalists in various events. “They’ll take a piece of the country with them,” concluded the female creator.

The Parapan American Games medals have a bluish heart and ribbon, while those of the Pan American Games have a turquoise tone. The chromaticity responds to different states of copper oxidation. The red metal is the main raw material for the medals to be awarded in Chile (picture from: Amsa).

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