WAYUU TRIBE - THE WAYUU PEOPLE, THEIR CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
The Wayuu (pronounced "Wah-You") people are an indigenous Latin American group inhabiting the desert of La Guajira Peninsula which borders Colombia and Venezuela. The Wayuu live in small settlements called "rancherias" which consist of five or six houses. Within these rancherias, the Wayuu people are able to preserve a way of life that has been passed down through the generations and remains unscathed by modern culture. The Wayuu tribe preserves their deep cultural traditions, their attachment to the land, and their own language, the Wayuunaiki. Organized in matrilineal clans, the Wayuu children carry their mother's last name, making the Wayuu women not only the center of the family but cultural leaders as well. One of the most significant aspects of culture that the Wayuu women practice is the art of weaving Mochilas Wayuu bags.
Each Wayuu mother teaches her daughter how to weave and crochet, keeping the tradition a way of life. At a very early age (about 12-year-old), Wayuu girls are taught the art of crocheting Wayuu bags as part of their tradition and legacy. To the Wayuu, weaving is a symbol of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity. As young Wayuu women come of age, they learn to create Mochilas Wayuu bags. According to legend, the tradition comes from "Wale´kerü", a spider that taught the women how to weave their creative drawings into the Wayuu bags. Each design incorporated into every Wayuu bag is unique to the weaver, telling a story through the bag's colors, patterns and shapes.
The weaver takes careful precision in her storytelling, making sure that the Mochila bag is a strong representation of Wayuu culture. Wayuu women work full days while weaving their Wayuu bags and can take up to a full month to complete one single bag. Today, Wayuu bags has become a means of financial support for the Wayuu people, which enables them to preserve their way of life.
When Covid hit the tourism was halted, the tribes income became non-existent. We were contacted by a local women Claudia from Iku Bags, she is from Columbia and has a direct link to this culture and the women. She educated us about these women’s stories and that why she founded Iku bags; which was to help these families survive and eat. We will be donating 15% of our markup directly back to the women and their families. We also aim to help tell their story and bring these beautiful works of weaving to our Tampa community. We are proud to carry theses Mochilas. If you are not local to Tampa reach out to us and we can send you pictures of our current offerings.