What is a Wayuu Mochila or Wayuu Bag?

It is traditionally a colorful bucket bag with a strap and tassels. It is handmade by the Wayuu women and it can be crocheted single-threaded or double threaded. The Wayuu artisans can take up to 25 days to weave a large bag. It is very difficult to find two bags having the same design since the artisan portrays in each bag a different interpretation of the Wayuu worldview, including not only their culture, values and beliefs but also the various forms of their natural surroundings.

Example of a Wayuu bag or Wayuu mochila

How long does it take to weave a Wayuu Mochila or Wayuu Bag?

The Wayuu women can take up to 3 to 4 weeks to crochet and weave a Wayuu medium-size Mochila (bag) depending on the crochet pattern.

Wayuu woman crocheting a wayuu mochila bag.

Are the Wayuu Bags made of cotton or acrylic?

There is a general misconception that the Wayuu Bags are made of cotton thread but they are really made out of acrylic thread which provides a colorful variety of colors.

In the past, Wayuu women used to spool their own thread from natural fiber and used plants to dye it producing a narrow array of earthy tones between brown and red colors. They do not do it anymore since they can save time and effort by buying prepared thread. This also allows them to create colorful bags with unique combinations and designs. However, some of these artisans may tell you they are made of cotton since they just want to mean a fabric. 

Mochilas Wayúu

Why do Wayuu women weave so beautiful?

The Wayuu women learn how to weave since they are little. In fact, they need to weave well as part of their passage from adolescence to womanhood. The teenage girl receives all sort of instructions to become an ideal wife such as how to take care of a home but most importantly how to weave. The Wayuu community have a popular saying that properly summarizes this, "To be a woman is to know how to weave". The better weaver a woman is, the more prestige she will have in her clan.

Wayuu woman weaving a Wayuu bag.

What is the meaning of the word Wayuu?

The word Wayuu (pronounced WAH-YOU) means person or people in Wayuunaiki (the Wayuu language)

Who are the Wayuu (Wayúu) people?

The Wayuu is an indigenous latin american group located in the arid Guajira peninsula located in Northeastern Colombia and Northwest Venezuela. They are known as the people of the sun, sand and wind. Their language is part of the Arawak family and is called Wayuunaiki. The Wayuu people have battled the Spanish conquest, the Government, and currently Mother Nature to keep to traditions alive. The women of the tribe are expert weavers and skilled at creating crafts including the Wayuu's famous Mochila bags.