About the Wayuu People…

While you may know a little bit about these fascinating indigenous peple already, there is so much more to learn. These colorful Wayuu mochila bags have been hand crafted for centuries now, so how has their culture allowed them to do such an amazing thing for so long? We would love for you to learn more about the Wayuu culture finding many remarkable attributes dwelling inside their practices, their delicious food, and their ancestral knowledge of nature and spirituality that’s transmitted through the making of Mochila Bags. 

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Their practices and teachings are not like others you have seen. They certainly are a unique people to say the least. Just look at their Wayuu mochila bags! One way you can immerse yourself in their culture is from a massive festival they have each year in Uribia, Colombia. This festival is known as the Wayuu Cultural festival. This event celebrates the great heritage of the Wayuu people bringing more people around their fascinating culture. Wayuu mochila bags are only the start. Dancing, handcrafts, and regional food dishes are common parts of this festival uniting both the Colombian and Venezuelan Wayuu people. Yes, that’s right. The Wayuu people live on both the Colombian and Venezuelan sides. They are neighboring countries sharing the peninsula where the Wayuu people reside. This festival brings both sides together as ritualistic practices and food are often different on each side of the border.

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Any place you go to will involve some sort of new food you have to try. Eating what others eat can really help one to understand how someone lives. You also might find something you like too! The Wayuu culture certainly has their own way of cooking. Seafood is commonly eaten by Wayuu people as they typically live very close to the water’s edge along the Caribbean Sea. Fishing is actively practiced by the men and many women are dedicated to crochet the striking Wayuu mochila bags along the shore. Along with seafood, goat commonly will be eaten and prepared in a dish known as “friche”. Their food will definitely light up your taste buds with spices and ancestral cooking methods that bring out a special taste in every dish.

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So we know a little bit about what they eat, what about where the live? Wayuu people are accustomed to nothing but warm weather as the region is mainly desert land that runs into the Caribbean Sea. Huge sand dunes collide with the ocean like that of the Dunes of Taroa. These great dunes are the northernmost site of both Colombia and South America. It has been often described as a mirage due to its vast beauty alongside such a bare wasteland of sand. I’m sure the beauty has inspired women in the past to create their own Wayuu mochila bags. The region truly does possess a captivating scenery. Small mountains of salt often form in the area as well as merchants shovel the salt in early hour mornings to avoid such drastic heat waves throughout the day. Merchants also bring in the regions fish supply where animal life like that of flamingos can be witnessed. Flamingos are commonly seen in the region flocking toward the many different species of shrimp that exist in the area especially that of artemia salina; a species of brine shrimp that helps to give flamingoes their pink color. Birds and fish are the main animals seen in the region due to sweltering temperatures not suited for most animals.

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The Wayuu people live in these desert temperatures inside small houses grouped together called “Rancherias”. Electricity is not something the Wayuu people get to indulge in like the rest of us. The homes don’t have much to them. Usually there are just two rooms. One is for sleeping by way of hammocks and the other for personal belongings such as Wayuu mochila bags, clothing, and ceramics for water storage. Ceilings are made from dried cactus hearts and wood while walls are composed of mud, hay, and dried canes. While these are the traditional styles, some clans have resorted to using modern materials such as cement. Although times have certainly changed since the inception of their culture, the simplistic nature of their culture has helped them thrive to this very day. Their relationship to nature and themselves made these people resilient survivors.  Wayuu people are proud to be able to pass on their knowledge and view of the world by creating such amazing pieces of art seen in their Wayuu mochila bags.

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Unlike most cultures today in society, the Wayuu culture is organized mainly by the women. Rancherias are part of bigger groups known as clans. The eldest women of each clan make the most important decisions for their people, not the men. The mother’s name is also the one passed on to each child unlike that of American culture in the United States where generally the men pass down the name to the children. The women really do possess all the power as heritage and tradition are key factors that have held their civilization together for centuries. The women are the cultural leaders as well. They are taught at very young ages how to weave and crochet things like that of their Wayuu mochila bags. Their minds are engraved at such a young age to inspire creativity for many years to come. Wisdom and intelligence are thought to be a symbol of their ability to weave such beauty as seen in their Wayuu mochila bags. Bringing their culture to the world is something this team really believes strongly in! They are a wondrous people with many ideals that should be shared around the world. I’m sure we could all learn a thing or two from the people of the Wayuu culture.

 

 


Edited by:

Diana Miller

 

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