Wayuu bags history: types and uses.

What is a Wayuu bag? 

The Wayuu bags history says that, the Wayuu bags are the biggest expression by woven Wayuu. They are easy to recognize for their colors and designs. They are handmade in crochet (technic teaching by catholic missioners at the beginning of the XX century). Each piece can take 20 days to make. 

Wayuu bags pretend to show that is women behind every piece, who belongs to an ethnic whit a legacy. A piece of art with high cultural meaning.  

What does the Wayuu do? 

The Wayuu is an indigenous tribe. They live in the La Guajira desert, in the north of Colombia. 

Inside the community, the men works raising sheep and goats, fishing, search the water, planting corn, and making musical instruments like drums. Meanwhile, women are dedicated to weaving hammocks, bags, bracelets, purses for women, and colored blankets. 

The Woven for the Wayuu women is more than a cultural practice. The way they understand and express their life, feelings, and wishes. 

The Myth of Wale’ Kerü (the spider). 

Wayuu bags history says the spider or Wale’ Kerü was who teach too woven to the Wayuu women. Wale’ Kerü is a weaver spider. Who made girdles and hammocks at night and were ready when everybody woke up. It made all the drawings before the spring. 

The Wayuu asks how she has done. So the spider star to teach to the Wayuu. Says that first, The Spider teaches to one woman. Later the woman says to the others that the spider will teach them how to weave if they bring her a goat or donkey. So the Wayuu offer their clothes and neckless. 

Also, Wayuu bags history says the spider (Wale’ Kerü) falls in love with a Wayuu man, and they ran away together. He takes her to his family. When they arrived at the family place. The mother gives some material to her and says: Use this material to make girdles. The spider eats the cotton and later from her mouth star to goes out treads ready to be woven.

Wale’ Kerü taught how to weave to the girls who remained in confinement. She asked them for all the attention, not to look to the sides, not to be distracted, because she could not always teach them.

What are the Wayuu bags made of?

The Wayúu use differents materials for a lot of time to weave their handmade bags. They spin wild cotton, magüey, and other natural fibers typical of the region, and twist cotton and industrial wool for fine fabrics, in addition to the spent threads that they reuse in “second-rate” fabrics. The Wayuu twist and twist threads in an “S” or “Z” shape. They take a lot of time to make threads. 

But today, the thread that is used to make the most common Wayuu bags is acrylic. This makes its colors bright in their particular and beautiful designs and lasts for a long time.

Types of handmade Wayuu bags 

In this part, we are going to talk about how the Wayuu bags history are classified according to their shape, size, color, or way of use. 


Wayuu bags, with brightly colored designs in the acrylic tread, can be circular, square, or rectangular cut. 

Those with a circular-cut have different parts: the base that sometimes has a wonderful design; the body; the mouth has a cord for close and a sustained handle.

Also, the circular shape bag has three types: the Susuchon, the Susu for daily, and the ainiakajatu.

Circular Shape

The Susuchon is a small bag that the man carries hanging on each side of the belt, forming part of the guayuco (Loincloth used by the American Indians). In the first one, he carries the money and, in the other, he keeps the tobacco. This measures between 12 and 15 cm high by 10 to 15 wide. It is woven in brightly colored cotton or wool.

The daily Susu is a medium-sized bag that the Wayuu carry wherever they go. In it, they keep objects for personal use, work tools, money, or woven. This measures between 20 and 30 cm wide by 35 cm high. They are made of acrylic, fine cotton and, brightly colored yarns. All kinds of geometric designs. 

Wayuu bags for travel:

Susuainiakajatu is the biggest bag. The Wayuu carry this bag when they go on a trip. They use it for packing the hammock, clothes, and other things. Because of the weight, they girdle it on the head or ride it on donkeys. The bag measures could be between 40 to 70 cm wide by 50 to 70 high and are woven in fine cotton, yarn, and has designs and colors.

The Kapatera is the Wayuu bag used by men to carry his clothes and hammock when he goes on a trip. This presents a very different shape from the other crochet bags. It is a kind of tube or cylinder with two mouths and two long closing cords that works as a hanger.

The square or rectangular are daily Wayuu bag, less used by women. These do not have a base, only the body, which is woven like a cylinder, is closed on one side and the other is left open to act as a mouth. It is woven in fine cotton, in all kinds of patterns.

Wayuu bags for housework

Piula or Kattowi bags are mesh bags used for store food and utensils. Made of goat leather, in fique, in trolling, or in yarn. These are large meshes, woven with the fingers of the hands, even the smallest of narrow meshes, woven with a straight needle. The base of the mesh bags begins in a small circle formed by a thick or double thread, on which a sparse fabric in the shape of a rope is woven with a needle.

The Susu Uttiakajamatu is a bag of different sizes, used by women to carry big objects through the desert. There are large ones, of the same shape and size as the susuainiakajatu. In this bag they transport firewood, salt, and heavy loads. The medium and small ones, to store and food and utensils. They are woven fique yarn with drawings of horizontal stripes in various colors.

Visit our Wayuu handmade shop and take home a handmade treasure of the indigenous Wayuu.

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