This is How Colombian Artisans Make Art Out of Cane

Handmade items always tell a story; from how the raw material is collected to the main types of braiding used in the production of products such as handmade bags. Wearing a handmade product makes us ambassadors of a culture or tradition, so it is important to know where those products come from.

Let us tell you the story of the Colombian Sabanero Caribbean culture and how it has spread to all corners of the world with their weaving techniques in the production of handmade products with caña flecha.

But before we begin, it is important to clarify that the caña flecha is a palm scientifically known as “Gynenum Sagithatum”. Since it requires humid and swampy weather, it only grows in specific states of Colombia known as Córdoba and Sucre, where the fiber is extracted for the artisans to make different products under the trade of weaving. 

The caña flecha handicrafts constitute the most important economic income for this community, and it begins from the extraction of the fibers to their braiding and sewing. In addition to creating handmade crafts with it, some communities use the caña flecha to build their houses and make fishing rods.

To obtain it, the longest leaves with a homogeneous texture are taken from the palm. The midrib is isolated from the rest of the leaf by the 'scraping' process, this is done by using a knife that is pressed over the midrib on a leather band attached to the lower thigh of the craftsman. Then, the rib is taken with the left hand and the knife with the right hand, and it is passed as many times as necessary, until the fleshy substance disappears, and the fiber is clean.

After this, the scraped ribs are separated between those with some pigment and those that are completely clean. The pigmented ones are dyed to form the different colors with which the braid will be made. This whole process can take up 5 days to make.

Initially, the caña flecha was used to make the traditional hat known as ‘sombrero vueltiao’, a garment that has its origin in the Zenu indigenous culture. Since pre-Hispanic times, the natives used the hat to shelter from the inclement sun during the cultivation of corn. Although the emblematic product is the Vueltiao Hat, the creativity of the Zenu indigenous communities led them to make beautiful handmade bags, wallets, bracelets, rings, headbands, earrings, belts, rugs, and many more handicrafts that, in addition to their aesthetic value, have multiple uses for the office and home.

It is not only because of the material and the difficulty of manufacturing but also because of the incredible shapes and colors that the artisans give to the bags. For these bags, there are no limits to shapes, colors, or sizes. Each one is unique and different from what we normally find, and they carry with them the identity and symbology of an entire community, which makes it one of our favorite discoveries. Get to know more about the caña flecha bags or purchase one in our online store, we offer Free shipping to all USA.

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