What is the craft of the Wayúu?

The Wayúu indigenous people, a community located in the north of Colombia is considered the largest indigenous community in this territory.

Throughout the years, the Wayúu have developed different artisan techniques that were used in the first instance for their own use and that today their own people and foreigners wear one of these with pride.

One of the best known crafts of this community are those that are made under the weaving. The art of knitting is more than a cultural practice and inheritance from their ancestors, it is a way of conceiving and expressing your life, how you feel and want it.

Legend says that Walekeru taught Wayúu women to weave. Walekeru is a weaving spider who always made hammocks and bows before sunrise and always had her designs and patterns ready for spring.

This teaching left by Walekeru has been passed down from generation to generation and has been transformed into multiple products ranging from household items to fashion accessories.

In this blog we tell you about all of them!

Mochilas or Wayúu bags 

It is the flagship article or product of this community.

The Wayúu bags are made 100% by hand by indigenous women, mostly.

There are a variety of bags according to their use. For example, men usually wear a bag called Kapaterra, which consists of a cylindrical bag with an opening at both ends of it. Wayúu men use it to carry clothes or hammocks when they travel or when they must travel long distances.

Mochila wayuu ekiitaya
Photo by Ekiitaya

Manillas wayuu

Manillas Wayúu

If you have the opportunity to go to La Guajira, you will usually find many children selling manillas to help their families, on the beaches of Riohacha, Camarones, and La Punta. Being small in size and light to carry, these pieces are very easy to sell to locals and tourists.


Wayúu woven

keyrings Keyrings are very prominent in Wayúu handicrafts after Wayúu backpacks. The reason? They are very striking accessories which are made with different designs and colors.

Being eye-catching, these can be used in bags of all kinds to achieve a good color contrast.

There arekeyrings Wayúu with one, two and even three balls or pompoms. There are plate-shaped keychains and tassels at the end. No matter the size or the color, this is a very ethnic and at the same time modern accessory to always carry with you!


Wayúu Clutch and Purses

Envelopes or clutches are highly model items that, unlike backpacks, have a greater margin of creativity.

There are two main techniques used to make Wayúu woven envelopes:

  • - Upholstered  
  • - In crochet
Clutch or bags wayuu ekiitaya

Photo by Ekiitaya


Purses are an item that, like key rings, are easy to carry and are very eye-catching.

The Wayúu purses are woven with the same technique as the Wayúu backpacks. 

They come in different sizes according to the needs of the wearer.

They also have envelope shapes (rectangular) or even round. 

Articles to dress the house

Articles to decorate the house or to dress the house are very popular in the Wayúu handicrafts, but without a doubt not very exploited.

When it comes to decoration, the creation of Wayúu items has no limits. These are some of the highlights:

  • -Sobremesas
  • -Tablecloths
  • -Bedspreads
  • -Linen
  • -Rug
  • -Painting or tissues

The possibilities are many when it is based the artistic flexibility of hands Wayuu.


Ceramica Wayúu


This is a product that, although it is not widely used by the alijunas (people who are not indigenous Wayúu), is an article that is of vital importance for the Wayúu communities, and that we highlight here for its decorative aspect and value for the indigenous community .


The vessels are an element used to reserve water and keep it fresh.


We all know that in La Guajira, where the Wayúu people live, the shortage of water is imminent, so it is necessary to reserve very carefully what they can collect from the rain.

In the same way, being a Caribbean land, on many occasions the rain is not present throughout the year, which also makes it necessary to preciously store this liquid.


Pottery Amuche, which means mucura in the Wayúu language (Wayuunaiki), is achieved by joining two types of clay: mud and crushedpowder casushi, a white stone that is placed in the water until it becomes malleable. With their hands they put together mucuums, pots, chocolatiers, glasses, pots, vases, pots, cup holders and napkin holders. The piece is dried in the sun for four hours, ground to remove imperfections, sanded and shined with a smooth river stone. 

cerámicas wayuu

Photo by: Artesanías de Colombia 


To obtain the red color with which the objects are painted, they use a red stone called urisha, which is composed of iron oxide. The stone is burned in the embers and crushed to obtain a powder that, when mixed with the water, contributes the color. The pieces, which were previously burned in a hole with cow dung, now go into a gas oven at 1,200 degrees. 


After 24 hours they are removed, cooled and finally bathed with water to make them pink. Different kanas or Wayúu designs are drawn on the objects such as “the path of life”, “the marks left by the snake in the sand”, “the spiral”, which indicates the path that the Wayúu should follow after death, and sheep horns, which represent the force of culture.


After all these artisanal options made by hand by the Wayúu people, which one do you prefer?

If you want to discover more of the traditions of this community, visit our blog here.

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