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  • Madeleine Komander

WAYUU BAG 101

Updated: Aug 3

Wayuu bags seem to only gain popularity as time goes by. With their variety of colours, shapes and sizes, they seem to be perfect for every occasion. But how much do we really know about these mochilas? Sure, most of us have some sort of idea, but not really. So I took it upon myself to dig a little deeper.

And so…





WELCOME TO WAYUU BAG 101


The Wayuu are known for their knitting. The colours and patterns are inspired by nature and the clans´ whereabouts. The bags personify a culture full of tradition that has been carried orally throughout generations. They represent the Wayuu´s way of life, values and beliefs. 

There are diverse types of patterns or “Kanaas” for Wayuu garments:


The Kuliichiya which renders the dried wood of the rancherías.







The Antajirasü that portrays the intersection of paths.








The Siwottouya which represents the allegory of horse prints.




And many, many more.



The shape of the Mochilas depends very much on their purpose, like for example the Susu: meant for everyday use. Wayuu women typically utilize them to carry their tools and personal belongings.



WHO CAN WEAR THESE BAGS?


Everyone. They are meant to be enjoyed and cherished as much as the culture they represent. The selling of these garments has become the primary source of income for the Wayuu, so wearing a mochila quite literally supports this ethnic group’s survival. Plus, they’re quite lovely, aren’t they?


Seeing as everyone is encouraged to wear these bags, the big question of production comes up:




WHO CAN MAKE THEM?


The Wayuu are known for their knitting. The colours and patterns are inspired by nature and the clans´ whereabouts. The bags personify a culture full of tradition that has been carried orally throughout generations. They represent the Wayuu´s way of life, values, and beliefs. 

By the time girls reach physical maturity, the learning begins. Young ladies say goodbye to their youth and welcome womanhood by taking part in a ritual lasting 365 suns and 12 moons. Wayuu women gain status by being successful in a set of different activities; such as governing a household. These are things they learn during this year-long preparation ritual. But first and above all, women must succeed in the art of knitting.




“TO BE A WOMAN IS TO KNOW HOW TO WEAVE"

- Unknown


Long after the learning period, the work continues. It is only these women who are allowed to carry on the tradition and knit these delicate patterns.



KAANAS: THE ART OF WEAVING DESIGN


Like any type of art, knitting is a form of expression. Women spend days and even weeks on a single bag. Imagine trying to put all of your emotion and effort on one single item. Intense right? That’s exactly what these women do with each and every single mochila. In a way, these bags carry the soul of the maker. Much like a painting or a sculpture.

I heard someone once say that fashion is like art, but all the more special, because you get to live your life in it. And the Wayuu offer us some of the most beautiful wearable art available.



After gathering all this information, I couldn’t help but look at these mochilas differently. I no longer only see a bag.


I see tradition.

I see an effort.

I see emotion.

I see women.


Now…

What do you see?









Sources:

http://textileartscenter.com/blog/history-in-threads-exploring-wayuu-mochilas/

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