Wayúu is the native Indigenous group living in the departments of Guajira (northern Colombia) and Zulia (northwest Venezuela) on the Caribbean coast.
There are over 140 000 Wayuu people in Colombia and over 290 000 in Venezuela, which represent approximately 20% of all Indigenous tribes in Colombia, almost half of the department of Guajira is inhabited by Wayuu and they represent almost 60% of the Indigenous population of Venezuela.
The Wayuu people have inhabited this part of the world for over thousand years living the nomadic life before any political boarders were established.
The Wayúu language called wayuunaiki is part of the Maipuran (Arawak) language family. The Wayúu word itself means person or people.
Community relationships are one of the strongest characteristics of this ethnic group.
Wayuu are excellent storytellers. One of their fundamental deities is Mareiwa, who is considered the goddess of the rains and water and is defined as creator of life & wisdom. She is also a personification of female protection.
Wayuu culture tends to be matriarchal.
Women use one or two threats of string taking them up to 3 weeks to crochet and weave every single bag in Spanish called mochila. Weaving is the Wayuu's way to tell their story and describe their dreams. It is also the hand woven reflection of their daily lives.
Geometric shapes on the accessories they make are called Kanaas.They interpret the nature and everything that the everyday life may present. Each and every Kanaas has its name and significance. Knowing the art of weaving patterns is highly respected within the community. Owning many fine woven accessories symbols the authority and causes great respect within the community.
See the examples of some Kanaas:
Wayuu people believe that their weaving skills come from the Waleker (the weaver spider)..