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Wayuu bags or mochilas are a traditional craft that has been practiced by the Wayuu women for hundreds of years. The craft of crocheting these bags is an art that is being learned by Wayuu women from an early age.
The Wayuu community is an indigenous group that lives in the northernmost part of Colombia in a region called La Guajira. Although the region is breathtaking the people are very poor, living in small mud and wooden huts. In many parts if La Guajira, there is no running water and drinking water must be purchased.
The creation of the Wayuu bag begins when a Wayuu girl goes from being a child to a woman, she is obliged to be confined to a hut anywhere from 6months to a year. Previously they use to be confined for up to 7 years.
During this time, she is only allowed to have contact with her mother and grandmother. Throughout this time she will be taught everything she needs to know about being a Wayuu woman. It’s at this time she will also be taught the art of crocheting Wayuu bags. She will learn the meaning of each pattern, shape and colour used in her bags to carry on the craft of her people. As a large majority of the people from the indigenous Wayuu community have little or no access to education, so crocheting these Wayuu bags is a skill that they have become dependant on to bring in a major part of their income.
In order to sell her bags, she must get them to a larger town or city. Sometime a representative of the village will gather all the bags produced by the women of the village and go and sell them in the city. Other times, the tribal women will make the trip to the city, and sells them to a provider that will commercialize them. The straps are often added to the wayuu mochila later, and are usually made by the men of the Wayuu community.
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