The Wayuu people are an ethnic group of the la Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia and northwest Venezuela, in Colombia, the Wayuu live in the Guajira desert stradding on the Caribbean Sea Coast. The Wayuu have their own language called Wayuunaiki. It is art of the Arawak language predominant in different parts of the Caribbean. The Wayuu no only produce one of the most complex crochet and textile techniques in our planet, they are also know for preserving their rituals, celebrations to death and heritage.
Most people know these bags come from Colombia, but do not know the story behind them. The Wayuu tribe is known as the people of the sun, sand and wind . They arrived in La Guajira from the Amazon rainforest and Antilles in 150A.D. to escape the hostile environments and find a new home. They have battled the Spanish, the Government and, currently, mother nature in order to keep their traditions alive.
About the Wayuu Tribe
Each Wayuu mother teaches her daughter how to weave and crochet, keeping the tradition as alive and vibrant as ever. The Wayuu weaving is a symbol of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity. As Young Wayuu women come at age, they learn to create Wayuu Bags. Each design incorporated into every Wayuu bag is unique to the weaver, telling a story through thew bag’s colors, patterns and shapes.
Global warming, El Niño and climate change have affected the tribe’s ability to create sustainable farming, with droughts threatening crops and animals dying of dehydration as a result. The tribe heavily relied on the subsidized groceries by the Venezuelan government to survive and buy rice, sugar and coffee. But due to recent events this has become impossible, causing malnutrition throughout communities who don’t have the means to buy products from Colombia.
To combat this, the Wayuu women have been preserving the art
of weaving. 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. The weaver takes careful precision in her storytelling, making sure that the Mochila bag is a representation of Wayuu culture. Since each bag is a story, no two bags are the same, making each one of them a unique piece of art. Wayuu women work long days while weaving their Wayuu bags and can take up to a full month to complete one single bag.