Known as the 'people of the sun, sand and wind', the extraordinary Wayuu tribes' culture is imbedded in some of the richest legends and traditions out there. Every day they work to keep their age-old traditions alive.
Scattered across the harsh desert lands in the north of Colombia and into Venezuela, the Wayuu tribe occupy a staggering 10,800 square kilometers. It is said that the art of weaving was originally taught to their ancestors by a mythical spider called Waleker. To this day, it remains a sacred part of the Wayuu culture and identity.
As conditions in the desert have grown harsher over the past years, the community has come to rely more and more on the income from their weaving. They live together in 'clans', or close-knit family communities, predominately in 'rancherías' huts made from cactus or palm-leaf-thatched roofs with yotojoro (mud, hay or dried cane) walls. They boast only basic furniture of hammocks for sleeping and a small fire pit for cooking.
Each day, the women sit together in traditional loose dresses 'mantas', weaving the tales of their ancestors into the most beautiful works of art.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Wayuu tribe is unique in the fact that the women of the household own the houses and run the families, while the fathers work with the animals and land.
Upon entering womanhood, each girl enters a period of seclusion whereby they are taught the customs and traditions by their mother and grandmother. Then they must weave their first 'mochila' bag as a part of the initiation rite. It is always just one woman who completes each piece - this can take anything from a few days, to a few months to finish depending on the complexity involved.