We are currently working with over 800 artisans from 14 communities across Colombia. Discover the stories and people behind each and every one of our products...
Tucked away in the hills near Barranquilla, Usiacurí is one of the most peaceful towns in the country. Both men and women have been working with iraca palm for generations and one still sees, peeping through the windows, daughters, mothers and grandmothers sat together weaving away through the heat of the day. Originally the palm was sourced from the local grasslands but due to changes in climate, it is now bought from Bolivar, a few hours south, to be washed, dyed, dried, and cut to size ready for weaving.
The Eperaara Siapidaara are an indigenous community, originally from El Cauca, who relocated due to the violence in 2008 and are now living in Bogotá. Weaving in paja tetera is a tradition that has been passed down for generations. The baskets were originally used to store food and household items and have now become their main source of income. Traditionally it is the women who weave and the men who trek up to three hours into the jungle to harvest the materials. The plants are then carried back and left to dry for three days before the women can begin weaving.
Guacamayas, a town overflowing with colour, hidden high in the Andes overlooking the endless valleys below. Weaving is at the heart of the local culture, with statues and patterns of the craft dotted across the main square, and providing a source of income for over 400 people in the town. Bunches of straw from the local fields are wrapped with threads of fique and dyed every colour of the rainbow to create the most stunning array of pieces. Both boys and girls begin to weave from a young age, watching their parents and grandparents before they can proudly present their achievements to the association.
Mompox is a town frozen in time, sitting peacefully on an island in the midst of the River Magdalena, previously cut off from the outside world by lack of access other than by boat. The goldsmith tradition dates back over 350 years to the Colonial era, the town was an important commercial port through which gold and Spanish crafts passed regularly on merchant ships. The master goldsmiths set up workshops in the town and hired local workers who began to learn as apprentices. The gold and silver is sourced from the Santa Rosa mines in Bolivar, Colombia, and each stunningly intricate piece takes up to 4 days to craft and years of training to master.
The Wayuu tribe occupy the harsh desert lands in the north of Colombia and across into Venezuela. It is said that the art of weaving was taught to their ancestors by a mythical spider called Waleker. To this day, the art remains a sacred part of the Wayuu culture and identity and is closely linked to the initiation rites upon entering womanhood. At the onset of the menstrual cycle, girls begin a period of seclusion during which they are taught Wayuu customs and traditions by their elders, such as weaving. Each unique piece is beautifully hand woven by just one woman in the desert lands and can take 20 to 30 days to complete.
Colosó is a tiny town, hidden deep in the Montes de María, land strongly marked by the conflict. The people began weaving with iraca and plantain leaves centuries ago, using a technique called ‘rolling’, to create bags for the children’s school books and storage for around the house. The men travel to the coldest parts of the mountain by donkey where the palm leaves grow wild. Once picked they are washed, dried and dyed ready for weaving. A bunch of the dried palm leaves are taken and wrapped in another to create rolls, these are then stitched together to create the most stunning pieces reaching up to 2m in height.
The “Cuatro Tetas” baskets (literally translating “four breasts”) are made in Guapi, Cauca by members of the Eperaara Siapidaara community. Weaving baskets is a craft that has been passed down through generations, they were traditionally used to store for food and household items as well as to prepare meals. Recently however their baskets have also become their most important source of income. Typically it is the women who weave, and the men who trek up to three hours into the forest to harvest the materials. The plants are then carried back and left to dry for three days before the women can begin weaving. Each basket takes around 8 to 10 days to weave by hand with patterns and figures inspired by the world around them, such as constellations, jaguar spots, snakes, spiders, the ant’s trail, and frogs.
The Embera are an ancient indigenous tribe that are spread across Córdoba, Urabá, Chocó, Panamá and Equador. The small beads used in their intricate pieces are called Chaquiras; they were originally glass beads, brought over during the Spanish Conquest, that were traded with indigenous groups as currency. They soon became a much loved part of Embera culture, replacing bones and seeds in their traditional dress and now also becoming a vital source of income for much of the community. It is said that the crafts hold ‘the secret’ of the Embera women, because in each design they leave engraved their relation with the imagination and observation of nature.
The ancient Zenú tribe are spread across the vast northern lands of Córdoba and Sucre. The women weave in ‘caña flecha’, the leaf of a cane that grows around the wetlands of the indigenous reserves. Plants and mud from the land are then used as natural dyes, creating some of the most beautiful colours. Alongside the 150 women we work with, there are 5 men who help to gather raw materials and sew together the woven strips. This tradition of weaving has been passed down through generations of Zenú, with the iconic black and white ‘sombrero vueltiao’ dating back to before the arrival of the Spanish.
Just hours from the capital city of Bogotá, but worlds apart, lie the little farm houses in the hills overlooking the town of Tibaná, where the women divide their time between household chores, caring for the animals and weaving. They originally worked with thick strips of bamboo woven into baskets before discovering the opportunities of weaving with tall grass from the paramo. The material is brought down on horseback before being dried, dyed and cut to size for weaving. Bunches of grass are delicately woven together with fique to create stunning forms. Each piece can take the women up to a week to weave before being brought down to the town.
Morroa sits quietly on the edges of the Montes de Maria, lands strongly marked by the armed conflict in Colombia. Their tradition of horizontal weaving technique dates back to the Zenú culture, who, long before the arrival of the Spanish, made an incredible range of fabrics in natural fibres such as cotton, plantain, and iraca. It is said that the origins of the hammock lie in the burial rituals of the indigenous peoples. The fabrics were used to wrap the bodies for burial. However when one asks where the tradition of weaving hammocks comes from they can only say that they learnt from their grandmothers, or “they have always made hammocks here” giving the art a timelessness and the powerful identity to the people of Morroa.