For hundreds of years, Wayuu women have been engaging in the traditional craft of Wayuu bags, otherwise known as mochila bags. From a young age, these women are taught how to crochet these beautiful bags that are truly each a work of art.
The ways of life and belief system of the Wayuu people influences the design and color scheme of each mochila bag. Therefore, each bag presents itself as a window into the culture of this mesmerizing group of individuals. The legends of the Wayuu people speak of a deity being the one to originally instruct the Wayuu women on how to create these beautiful Wayuu bags. It is thus easy to see why the creation of these bags is tightly wound with the Wayuu people themselves.
They say that a Wayuu bag can take anywhere from 10 to 15 days, but this actually depends on the maker. Wayuu women do not spend their whole day working at their craft. When the day’s responsibilities have been dealt with, she will then turn to her craft and resume crocheting the bag. On average, a Wayuu bag takes a woman 5 hours to complete. However, this does not include the strap, as Wayuu bag straps are typically created by the men.
The selling of these beautiful bags has become a large part of the income that sustains the Wayuu people. If you have the opportunity to travel to where they reside in La Guajira, Colombia, take the time to learn about their culture and their wonderful traditions, such as making mochila bags. If you can, purchase one of these bags while you are there. You will not only be putting money directly into the artisan’s hands, but you will be helping the community that creates these beautiful bags and ensuring that they have the ability to continue their craft well into the future.