The Mochila Craft of the Wayuu
Wayúu, pronounced "Wah-You" means person or people of the Guajira peninsula of Colombia - a region spanning the Caribbean coast across the borderless regions of north eastern Venezuela. The Guajira province was once a lush green area where wealth was measured in goats and cows but is now a semi-arid desert landscape due to climate change and mining.
The Wayúu are noble people of Arawak origins and are the largest indigenous group in Colombia. They live in a matrilineal society with twelve distinct clans, each have their own names and identities and in live small settlements called rancherias.
They are a very proud people with a strong oral tradition with stories and skills handed down from elders to their children and grandchildren. It is a culture rich with vibrant tribal rituals inspired by their mythical past, as well as the nature and the landscape that surround them.
Key traditional crafts of the Wayúu includes pottery and weaving of blankets, hammocks and mochilas in a technique unique to this region. They are passionate about preserving their fascinating culture and heritage especially their unique tradition of weaving.
A skill handed down from the maternal line, mochlla bags are made by a "Waleker" (spider weaver) a skill considered as of the highest artform and found nowhere else on earth.
The design of the bags are influenced by the colours and elements of the landscape from rich reds that symbolise the soil or earth, to the aqua blues that represent the sea to burtn oranges that represent the arid desert.
Caribbean coast of Colombia
Flamingos of La Guajira
La Guajira desert
The skill of the Waleker is exceptional and should be celebrated as it can only be found in this small corner of the planet.
When you wear a mochila bag, you not only carry a beautiful product but a unique piece, symbolising a rich history and will help keep the tradition alive. Every purchase of a Wayuu mochila bag will be help the communities to maintain their traditions and earn a good fairtrade income.