The Making- Wayuu Bags
The Wayuu (pronounced "Wah-You") people are an indigenous Latin American group inhabiting the visually striking desert of La Guajira Peninsula which borders Colombia and Venezuela. The Wayuu live in small settlements called "rancherias" which consist of five or six houses. Within these rancherias, the Wayuu people are able to preserve a way of life that has been passed down through the generations and remains unscathed by modern culture. Organized in matrilineal clans, the Wayuu children carry their mother's last name, making the Wayuu women not only the center of the family but cultural leaders as well. One of the most significant aspects of culture that the Wayuu women practice is the art of weaving Mochilas Wayuu bags.
The “Mochila Wayuu” is their most known traditional craft; however, using the same weaving they create much more products.To create each unique design Wayuu women use a specific technique of placing a single cotton thread in a manual loom. This technique has been used for centuries having been passed down from one generation of Wayuu women to the next. Wayuu women learn the art of crocheting these bags at an early age and legends say that Wayuu women were originally taught to weave and create these complex patterns in their designs to mirror the webs created by a spider-like deity Wale ´Kerü. Plenty of thought goes into each mochila as the weaver takes care in creating an elaborate design that reveals a story. Stories give a cultural history to these mochilas and each mochila inspires a story that shares the traditions, of the Wayuu indigenous community and their culture.
It can take 2 weeks up to one full month to weave a single bag with their individual patterns which make each bag a one-of-a-kind creation. Weaving these bags takes great dedication from these Wayuu women and really shows how devoted they are to their craft! Today, the Wayuu bags are a crucial part of the Wayuu economy and means for financial support, which enables them to preserve their culture, traditions, and way of life.
Each Wayuu mother teaches her daughter how to weave and crochet, keeping the tradition as alive and vibrant as ever. To the Wayuu, weaving is a symbol of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity. As young Wayuu women come of age, they learn to create Mochilas Wayuu bags. According to legend, the tradition comes from "Wale´kerü", a spider that taught the women how to weave their creative drawings into the Wayuu bags. Each design incorporated into every Wayuu bag is unique to the weaver, telling a story through the bag's colors, patterns and shapes. The weaver takes careful precision in her storytelling, making sure that the Mochila bag is a strong representation of Wayuu culture. Wayuu women work full days while weaving their Wayuu bags and can take up to a full month to complete one single bag. Today, Wayuu bags has become a means of financial support for the Wayuu people, which enables them to preserve their way of life.
The Wayuu women are incredibly talented at crocheting beautiful designs and patterns. To the Wayuu, the patterns tell the story of their culture and way of life. Wayuu women are taught how to crochet at an early age. By the time a Wayuu girl reaches adulthood, they have mastered crochet techniques
Picture taken during our last visit on May, 2018 to buy directly our mochilas to the Wayuu Artisans in La Guajira. Read our blog post "Life in "Colombia's Indigenous Capital"" to learn more about our experience during this trip.
Video produced by artisans we work directly with.