Colombian Wayuu Mochilas are traditional handmade bags made in the heart of the Guajira peninsula, a desert region located in the northwest of the country. The weaving technique and patterns of these colourful bags are emblematic of the culture of the Wayuu people. They also represent the expression of a unique cultural heritage.

Traditionally, it is the Wayuu women who make these bags. However, a few men are now involved in making them, particularly the shoulder straps. For a long time, only a few women learned the particularities of this weaving method as well as the symbolism of the motifs. In recent years, however, this know-how has been acquired by a larger number of people, as the sale of these bags represents the main means of subsistence for many families.


Wayuu mochilas: messengers of a culture

Wayuu weaver This knowledge, transmitted from childhood throughout the territory of La Guajira, is the heritage of the ancestors of the Wayuu people.

These ethnic bags are made using a process that consists of using a single needle while creating often complex patterns. This manufacturing technique requires a high level of skill and it can take several weeks to complete a bag.

Wayuu people call the ancestral motifs represented on these bags kanasü. This term means drawing, pattern, in the Wayuu language. These designs represent the ideal of the Wayuu aesthetic. They are linked to the elements of nature, the daily life and the environment of this people. Therefore, fauna, flora, uses and customs give their name to these original figures. According to legend, it was Wale’kerü, a red spider, who taught the Wayuu these nature-inspired motifs.

Wayuu mochilas are not only a symbol of the Wayuu culture, but they are also an important source of income for the indigenous group. Many women spend their days weaving these bags, which are then sold to tourists and locals alike.


A heritage under threat

In recent years, the popularity of Wayuu mochilas has exploded. They have become a fashionable accessory. Indeed, they are often seen on the arms of influencers and celebrities. However, the explosion in demand has not only had positive consequences. Some companies have started to mass produce counterfeit versions of these bags.

At Ocasa, we feel it is essential to support the Wayuu people. We therefore buy directly from several small groups of Wayuu artisans, with whom we have worked for several years.

By purchasing one of these beautiful and colourful bags, you are helping us to support the Wayuu community economically, and to keep a unique cultural heritage alive.


La Guajira desert