The Artisans Behind the Magic
Did you know that Colombia has about 350,000 artisans, of which approximately 60% come from rural areas and indigenous communities, and 65% are women?
To speak of artisans is to speak of the innumerable indigenous communities that for the most part belong to economically depressed sectors of society. Although the main occupations of indigenous peoples differ from country to country, we find the common characteristic that they are populations rich in cultural expressions and artisan techniques that represent an incredible opportunity for employment and sustainable growth.
All of our artisans are talented creators who work with traditional methods passed down from generations of other creators within their families. They represent their traditions and beliefs through their elaborate pieces, in which they capture their cosmology, their way of seeing the world and put in them something representative, not only of their culture but of the soul.
We work with several artisans from 4 different communities in Colombia
The women of the Wayúu indigenous community, on the La Guajira peninsula, on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, say that it was Walekeru (the spider) who taught them to weave. The secrets of their traditional weaving techniques are part of the rites of passage that adolescent girls undergo when they become women. The intricate handwoven (designs) you see are called Kanas and are an ancient manifestation of Wayúu art and represent elements in the matriarchal structure of their society, their environment and their daily life.
EFor the Misak, also called Guambianos, the earth and everything that composes it, is the mother. They are identified as those in charge of guaranteeing balance and harmony between nature and human beings; making the commitment to defend it, protect it, maintain it, and return it to humanity. Mothers and grandmothers teach their daughters how to weave and bead at a young age in order to preserve the knowledge and the way in which their ancestors wove. The women of this community in Silva, Cauca tell their unique story in the form of beading earrings--with mother nature being the focal point behind the designs & colors used.
The Embera Chami is a large and resilient tribe that faces cultural extinction and violence in their territories. They reside in various regions throughout Panama and Colombia and are known for their colorful ‘chaquiras” or beadwork made out of glass beads that is used in their everyday life and ceremonial practices. Their creations are related to their native language, their worldview and the spiritual world, and contain unique symbols that reflect their ancestral dreams that are connected to earth and the constant communication they have with the jungle. Handcrafts are one of their main sources of income and many end up leaving their homes to sell on the streets of Medellin and other large cities. Not only is beadwork a form of economy, it is also a way to connect with their ancestors and keep their traditions and culture alive.
The Inga or Ingano people, whose territories are located in Putumayo, are direct descendants of the Quechua and consider weaving an art form where creativity is born from "observations" and "valuing" the thought-provoking world around us. They are carriers of a knowledge that has been transmitted orally through generations; this understanding has allowed them to understand their environment and create introspections that express life in the Inga community and strengthen relationships with the elements of nature that are then represented in their unique beadwork.