Wayuu People … What to Know

The Wayuu

Who are they?

While you may know a little bit about the fascinating Wayuu people already, there is so much more to learn. They are the makers of the colorful Wayuu Mochila Bags. They have been weaving and crocheting 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. Many remarkable attributes are dwelling inside their practices. For starters, their delicious food, their ancestral knowledge of nature and spirituality, and their incredible craftsmanship shown through the making of crochet items. 

 

What about the Wayuu culture?

 

IMG_2145By attending a massive festival they have each year in Uribia, Colombia you can immerse yourself in their culture. 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.

The Mochila Bags showcase only a small part of their diverse culture. Dancing, artisan products, and regional food dishes play a significant role in 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. The neighboring countries share 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.

 

 

 

 

What do they eat?IMG_2142

Any place you go to will involve some new food you have to try. Eating what others eat, can help one to understand how someone else lives. You also might find something you like too! The Wayuu culture certainly has their particular way of cooking. These indigenous communities, as they typically live very close to the water’s edge along the Caribbean Sea, commonly eat seafood. The men actively practice fishing, and many women dedicate themselves to crochet the beautiful Wayuu mochila bags along the shore. Along with seafood, they enjoy the preparation of goat in a dish known as “friche.” Their food will light up your taste buds with spices and tribal cooking methods that bring out a particular flavor in every dish.

 

 

 

Where do they live?

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So we know a little bit about what they eat, what about where the live? Wayuu people know nothing, but warm weather, as the region is mainly desert land that runs into the Caribbean Sea. Massive sand dunes collide with the ocean like that of the Dunes of Taroa. These great dunes located at the northernmost site of both Colombia and South America often described as a mirage due to its vast beauty, compliment the landscape of the arid sandy region.

Surely, the beauty of the terrain has inspired women in the past to create their Wayuu mochila bags. The area 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 you can witness animal life like that of flamingos. Flamingos, commonly seen in the region, flock 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.  Due to the scorching temperatures, birds and fish showcase the scarce animal life in the region.

 

 

How do they live?

La Guajira Desert. Wayuu

La Guajira Peninsula, Colombia.

These indigenous 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 traditional styles compose the majority of their infrastructure, some clans have resorted to using modern materials such as cement. Although times have certainly changed since the inception of their culture, the simple 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.

 

 

 

How are they unique?

Wayuu Traditional House
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 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. The mothers teach their children at very young ages how to weave and crochet things like that of their Wayuu mochila bags. Their minds are engraved at such an early 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. We firmly believe in Bringing Wayuu culture to the world is s. They are fascinating people with creative working hands; the world must witness their craft! I’m sure we could all learn a thing or two from the people of the Wayuu culture.

 

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