The Wayuu (pronounced “Wah-you”) is an indigenous Latin American group that inhabits the desert of La Guajira Peninsula which is situated between the borders of Colombia and Venezuela.
Each Wayuu family lives in small settlements called “Rancherias,” which normally consist of 5 to 6 houses. Within these settlements, you can observe a way of life that has been preserved through the generations and appears to remain in a time that has long since passed. It is completely different than the modern culture that you find elsewhere in Colombia.
The Wayuu is organized by matrilineal clans, the Wayuu children take their mother’s surname, making the Wayuu women the center of the family and the cultural leaders. One of the most important aspects of this culture is the practice of knitting bags. Each mother teaches her daughter how to knit, passing down their vibrant culture from generation to generation.
For the women, knitting is an expression of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity. When a Wayuu woman comes of age, she puts into practice the lessons of her mother and creates bags with her designs. The designs are based on symbols of their culture and their imagination which is influenced by the incredible landscape of the Guajira desert.
"Using a Wayuu bag means to become a cultural messenger."
A Fabulous Origin.
According to legend, the tradition comes from “wale’keru”, a spider that taught the Wayuu women how to knit their drawings into their bags.
The intertwined designs of each bag are a unique knit that tells a story through its colors and forms. There are infinite ways to build these pieces of art each taking one woman one month to complete. Using a Wayuu bag makes the wearer a cultural messenger.