Meet the Artisans

Our woven wall art and placemats are handmade in El Cesar

El Cesar is a region in the remote North of Colombia, known for its abundant natural resources, and, until recently, heavy guerrilla and paramilitary group activity. Until 5 years ago, the official advice was not to visit the department due to the levels of violence and kidnappings. Today, El Cesar is still a red zone but violent incidents are becoming a rare occurrence. 

It is also rare to see tourists here, or for that matter road names or house numbers. Life is simple but not easy; the men tend to work the land while the women make up more of the artisans, creating all things woven to be exported across the country. 

Community is fundamental to life here. People rely on either farming or the sale of their handiwork, and women are often the driving force for trade. This is where I met Jadis, Yamile and their families, some incredibly talented and warm-hearted artisans. 

Creative Traditions

These unique products were originally made by the Chimila, an indigenous group that was subjugated by the Spanish invasion in the 1700s. During this period, they lost much of their territory, but their ancestral practices such as loom weaving continued.

They used the estera palm, a palm native to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, and natural dyeing techniques to create beautiful mats.

These ancient practices were passed down from mother to daughter and have evolved with each generation’s creativity. They still use the palm as well as a variety of plant-based materials to colour the products, including seeds, leaves and tree bark, creating a gorgeous earthy feel. 

Inspiration is drawn from the natural world and the local livelihoods that it supports. For example, designs based on waves and fishing nets allude to the enduring importance of fishing to the local economy. 

Depending on size, each wall hanging can take between 4 and 6 days to make, plus the time to process the palm leaf and the natural dyes. 

Jadis & family
Preparing the Estera palm