The Wayuu people are native South Americans who live in an area between Venezuela and Colombia. They live in a harsh, arid area, and the families are divided into clans. The Wayuu people are skilled weavers and knitters and their handcrafts include bags, hats, and hammocks.
The Wayuu women start learning about knitting since they are little girls watching their mothers knit. They gain more extensive training during puberty, when they are cloistered for long periods of time and their moms and grandmothers (the only people who can see them during this period) teach them sewing, weaving, cooking, and other useful skills. Wayuu women are such skilled knitters that they even knit while they walk around!
In their culture, a myth says that a spider-like deity taught a Wayuu woman how to knit. Wayuu bags represent the Wayuu women's lives. They carry their lives. The bags start “small, like our lives and the straps represent our destiny.” The designs represent plants, animals, starts, and their clans' symbols. Different colors also have different meanings: red is blood and blue is wisdom. Yellow represents happiness; beige is land; pinks and oranges are flowers; green is trees.
These Wayuu bags are approximately 9 to 13 inches in diameter and depth, and the straps measure between 32 and 40 inches. The bag ergonomically lays over your hip, and it is the perfect size to carry your day-to-day essentials. The bags are made of synthetic fibers and they can last for many years.
The selling of handcrafts is fundamental to the survival of the Wayuu people. By buying their bags you're helping their economical development and the passing on of their culture. Also, part of the profits will be donated to susceptible communities. Each $50 purchase will help feed 5 Wayuu children through The Wayuu Taya Foundation.