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Dictador Celebrates Indigenous Colombian Artisans With $4,800 Rum

Dictador Mopa Mopa TOTEM collection rum

Known for lavish collaborations and price tags to match, Dictador recently ventured into even loftier territory with the introduction of its Totem collection. Now, the Colombian rum brand is releasing the second bottling in the range, Dictador Mopa Mopa.

Dictador established the Totem collection to preserve cultural diversity, encourage traditionalism in art, and honor indigenous artisans and their techniques, dating back centuries. The brand  owns the world’s largest stock of aged rum, up to 45 years old, and  wants to “[pioneer] aged rum for collecting connoisseurs.”

The Dictador Mopa Mopa collection demonstrates the artistry, technique, and thought devoted to the development of these collectible rum bottles. There are only 360 bottles within Mopa Mopa and each bottle has been hand-decorated by Colombian artists. The collection represents this historic, ancient art form but is also a symbol of the love and respect these artisans have for their homeland and its rich culture.

The inspiration for these bottles stems from the ancient tradition of using Mopa Mopa, a native South American phenolic resin, used for centuries in cultural contexts by artisans in the region of Pasto, Colombia, to decorate ceremonial drinking cups known as ‘Qeros.’ The process involves a complex cycle of production whereby sheets of flexible resin are extracted from trees of the genus Elaeagia, which grows in mountainous regions of western South America. This is done without harming the tree during the process.

The trek to collect the resin is always done on foot and typically takes up to 5 hours to reach the destination point. Resin gatherers will then set up campsites in the wilderness for 8 to 15 days as they comb through patches of trees for viable harvest. In total, the resin gatherers will collect between 6-9 kilos of Mopa Mopa which will then be sold to varnish masters at a central location closer to town. Mopa Mopa is sacred because of the beauty it makes possible but also because of the effort involved in sourcing it and the rarity of it – the harvest only happens twice a year between May and November.

Because the artistry of Mopa Mopa is so intricate and time-consuming, it cannot be automated for mass production. As a result, the people involved are crucial in the making of these limited-edition bottles. Like many indigenous processes, the harvesting of Mopa Mopa and the ancestral knowledge of the Pasto varnish application process is under threat of being lost due to deforestation and agricultural encroachment. It is because of the passion and commitment of these local people that this artform has been kept alive.

The Dictador Mopa Mopa collection is priced between at $3,600 and $4,800, depending on the bottle, and can be purchased via the brand’s online store.

In June, Dictador unveiled the latest addition to its 2 Masters series, Carlos 1.