The Wayuu native indigenous tribe is located in the north of Colombia in the department of Guajira. Their customs and traditions are influenced by the features of the land they live in, and their interaction with nature in general. In the same way, the Wayuu lifestyle and their creations are notoriously influenced by their mystical beliefs.
Their handmade bags are a great example of how they portray their beliefs and traditions in their art. Wayuu handmade bags present a series of abstract patterns with representative symbols of their culture. The most prestigious ones depict abstract figures of native plants and animals.
These are some of the most well-known Wayuu patterns:
- Pasatalo’ouya: It represents the heart of the red-footed tortoise.
- Kuliichiya: It illustrates the woven formed by the dry sticks on the ceiling.
- Siwottouya: It is an allegory of the horse tracks left on the sand.
- Kalepsü: It draws the wooden hook that they use to hang objects from the ceiling.
Just like the drawings on their handmade bags represent their lifestyle, there is also a meaning behind the types of bags they create and how they are used. The designs, shape and utility of the Wayuu handmade bags play a major role in safekeeping their customs, beliefs and tradition.
Susuchon or Woot bags: These are small bags that Wayuu men wear on both sides of the belt as part of their loincloth. One is used to keep their money, and the other is for their tobacco. These bags are woven in wool fibre and cotton with bright colours.
The Susu bag: This is the typical everyday bag that the Wayuu tribe use for their daily chores. Here, they store work tools, personal use items and money. Women use it to store their wovens. These are also elaborated in bright colours with wool or thin cotton.
Kapatera bag: It has a cylindrical base, and it is bigger than other Wayuu handmade bags. Wayuu men use this bag to carry their clothes and their hammock.
Susuainiakajatu bag: This is like the Kapatera bag version for women. Here, they carry their clothes and hammock, and when the weight in the bags is too heavy, they stick it on their heads, or a donkey will carry it for them.
Maikisia bags: Meaning cornflower. This bag is usually made in one or many colours, and its designs include many spirals, lines and dots.
Uttiakajamatu bags: These are bags made in many shapes that women use to carry different objects such as salt, wood, food and others. Besides their use in transporting goods, they are also used to store and hang them. These bags are made in fique yarn, cotton and other materials, keeping their natural color.
Kattowi bags: These are also used to transport and store items such as pots, food and others. These are typically made in goat's fur, aipis or fique yarn.
Now that you know what these colorful patterns and shapes represent, remember that here at WYU you can order customized designs too or simply choose from the amazing range of Wayuu bag types that WYU has for you.