In Colombia there are still many indigenous communities and their traditions. Handicrafts are an integral part of the country’s history but also of its intangible heritage. Handicrafts are nowadays an important source of income for the communities but also a way to preserve their way of life and to make it known across the borders.
1. The Mochilas
Las Mochilas are bags woven by the women of the Wayuu community living in La Guajira, the easternmost peninsula in Latin America. These colorful and unique handmade confections, require nearly 25 days of weaving. The Wayuu women prove their intelligence, dexterity and creativity by performing this ancient technique of several generations. The men weave the shoulder strap. Initially dedicated to personal transportation, all Mochilas have a unique shape but a unique color and patterns. It is said that a Mochila reflects the personality of the person who wears it or the one who makes it. Be careful to buy real Mochilas and not reproductions so that it benefits the communities.
2. The Molas
Molas are colorful patterns on a black background woven by the women of the Guna community. These handmade pieces are elaborated by hand to freeze their culture in time. The women of the Guna community are dedicated to this and are experts in this protected craft discipline and exhibited at the Gold Museum in Bogota.
3. The ceramics of Ráquira
Clay is the union of water, earth, air and fire. It is also a material used by pre-Columbian peoples to store water, corn and salt. Today the ceramics of Ráquira has a utilitarian but also magical character.
4. The Vueltiao Hat
One of Colombia’s best known handcrafted symbols, the Vueltiao hat is made by the Zenú community. A complex traditional process is used to extract and transform the natural fibers of the “caña flecha” palm tree into black and white patterns representing the totemic elements of the Zenú community.
5. Pasto varnish – mopa-mopa resin
A technique for extracting resin from the “Mopa-Mopa” tree was developed by the indigenous people living in Nariño. Shaped into thin sheets and dyed with vegetable dyes, the resin is placed on wooden objects of daily use (bowl, vase).
6. Colombian Ponchos
The poncho is a typical Latin American garment with a simple design in the shape of a rectangle and a hole at the head, without sleeves to facilitate movement. In Colombia, it is worn in the coolest rural areas of the territory: Cundinamarca, Cundiboyacense del Valle de Tenza region. Most often worn by men, the poncho is a handmade piece easy to find in Colombia and often of good quality.
7. The alpargatas
Alpargatas are espadrilles: light canvas shoes with a rope sole. Comfortable and ideal for hot weather. Colored, plain, black or white, they have crossed all the fashions. They are found in the Andean regions and all over Colombia.
8. Arhuaca mochilas
The arhuaca mochilas or Tutu Iku in Ika are an artisanal product of the arhuaca ethnic group and one of the most representative of Colombia. Made by the women of the community, the Gwati, from a very young age, the mochilas come in different forms: natural wool fabric, cotton, fique or industrial wool. The men wear them on their shoulders for three purposes: to carry personal objects, to carry coca leaves or to store food for travel.
9. Bisutería colombiana
Colombian jewelry is very colorful, made of stones and leather (for men). Colombia is the country of emeralds, but be careful not to buy them just anywhere, or from just anyone.
10. Barro chivas
The chivas de barro are somewhat special buses. Historically, they were used to connect peasant villages or isolated farms to the main villages. The inhabitants of the Andes use it to transport goods or for their personal transportation. Models of traditional art, these buses covered with colorful patterns are a Colombian treasure.
Colombian handicrafts allow thousands of people to live from this preserved and envied indigenous art. During your trip to Colombia, take the time to understand and appreciate these customs.
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