Surely, you are curious to know about the origins of your Wayuu bag. You want to know where it came from and who made it. These factors are what give your Wayuu bag its colors and patterns.
Let’s take a brief overview and see what’s behind your brightly colored mochila bag.
Who are the Wayuu and where do they live?
The Wayuu community is an indigenous group that lives in the northernmost part of Colombia in a region called La Guajira. This area is made up mostly of desert and the Wayuu indigenous community is for the most part very poor due to lack of government support. But that’s a story for another day! The region is filled with rickety and flimsy wooden huts supposed to serve as homes. In many parts of La Guajira, running water does not reach and drinking water must be purchased. La Guajira’s desertic region is an area where rain hasn’t touched the roofs of its inhabitants in over three years.
A Wayuu women’s right of passage
It all begins when a Wayuu girl goes from being a child to a woman. During her first menstrual cycle, she is obliged to stay confined to a hut anywhere from six months to a year (previously, they used to stay confined for up to 7 years!). During this time, she is only allowed to have contact with her mother and her grandmother. Throughout these months of confinement, these 2 women will teach her everything she needs to know about being a woman and caring for her future husband and children. It is during this time that she learns about the art of crocheting Wayuu bags. She learns the meaning of each pattern, triangle and color used in her bags.
Working as a Wayuu women
A traditional Wayuu woman will refine her crochet skills as she will continue to crochet throughout her life. However, it is not something she does full time. She must attend other duties such as caring for her home and family.
How she sells her Wayuu bags
A traditional Wayuu woman will usually live in her ‘ranchería’ or small village. In order to sell her bags, she must get them to the big city. Sometimes, a representative of the village will gather all the bags produced by the women from the village and go and sell them in the city. Other times, the woman makes the trip to the city herself and sells them to a provider that will commercialize them and add the strap (Wayuu woman only make the bag itself).