Meet the Artisans

Our woven baskets and mochilas are made in La Guajira

The Wayuu are Colombia's largest indigenous group and live in harsh desert conditions in the North Eastern part of Colombia. They were one of the few Indigenous groups that were not subjugated by the Spanish.  

The majority of the Wayuu live below the poverty line, many are subsistence farmers living in desert communities. There are few opportunities for work and education in this remote area. Child mortality rates are also worryingly high, caused by malnutrition and disease. Due to changing climatic conditions drought has been a huge problem affecting the production of food and water for drinking. 

Another issue is the Cerrejón mine, the world's largest open pit coal mine in the middle of Wayuu ancestral land. The mine uses 24 million litres of water per day and operations have contaminated the Rancheria River which is the main source of drinking water in the region.

The Wayuu rely heavily on sales of their artisanal products as their way of living has changed dramatically. The crocheted mochilas (bags) were exclusively used by the Wayuu for carrying personal items as they traversed across the desert and it is only recently that they have been commercialised out of necessity. 

They have both a functional and decorative purpose, as they were made to be sturdy and spacious but are also elaborated to show their cultural heritage. 

Tradition and Technique

Girls learn the crochet technique during their time in 'el encierro'. This is when they are enclosed in an area from their first menstruation cycle. Only female relatives can enter and they learn all that they need to to transition into being a woman, including how to crochet. 

The geometric patterns are visual representations of Wayuu life and the natural world, with patterns on bags and baskets rarely being the same. 

Bags are made from acrylic thread which is the most cost effective for the Wayuu, is long lasting and machine washable. 

Each bag takes 5-7 days to make and a basket 2-5 days depending on size.