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About Our Mochilas

All of our products are hand woven by the Wayuu women of La Guajira, Colombia.  Wayuu women have long been experts in the art of weaving, a skill that is passed down through the generations.  Designs are generally unique and hold specific meaning to the weaver; different colours and patterns representing a story, cultural event or identity.  In the Wayuu culture the art of weaving is the ultimate demonstration of creativity and wisdom.

Originally mochilas were made for both practical purposes and to demonstrate cultural identity through artistic expression.  However in recent times the sale of the mochilas has become an essential means of financial support for the Wayuu people, helping to preserve their traditional way of life in times of economic and cultural hardship.  We work directly with the Wayuu women that weave our mochilas; paying a fair price and also donating 15% of profits to the local community.  Please see about us for further information.

A Wayuu mochila can be woven using 2 different techniques; the single thread or the 2 thread weave.  Unfortunately the vast majority being produced are of the 2 thread weave, which is a newer technique developed to produce low quality mochilas as quickly as possible for mass market.  The technique is leading to the decline in production of the high quality single thread mochilas.  However please rest assured that all of our products are woven with a single thread weave!

Characteristics of a single thread weave:

  • A single mochila takes approximately 3 weeks to weave.
  • The weave is far tighter and therefore yields a much stronger yet lighter mochila.
  • A Wayuu mochila woven with a single thread weave will last for a years!
  • The thread is comprised of approximately 70% cotton, 30% acrylic, which helps the mochila keep its shape.
  • The designs are often extremely intricate and the level of skill needed to weave such a product is far greater.
  • Single thread mochilas are NOT commonly available to purchase inside or outside Colombia.
  • The art of weaving using the single thread technique is slowly dying as poor quality 2 thread mochilas are produced in large numbers for the mass market.  Presently only a small proportion of Wayuu women are able to weave using the technique.  Purchasing a single thread mochila is directly helping to preserve this traditional cultural skill of the Wayuu people.
  • Despite ours being made to order the inspiration for the design always comes from the weaver.  Wayuu women do not like to repeat mochilas, so yours will almost certainly be one of a kind.
  • Please see an example below of a high quality single thread weave on the left compared to a low quality 2 thread mochila on the right:
 

    Despite what other websites may claim about their products mochilas woven with a 2 threads technique have the following characteristics:

    • They take approximately 3-4 days to weave.
    • The weave is looser and frankly the mochila is not likely to be nearly as robust.
    • The thread used is almost always 100% artificial.
    • Designs cannot be nearly as intricate and in our experience can often be quite similar to one another.
    • They are far more common and are available to buy throughout Colombia.
    • The technique was not traditionally used by the Wayuu.  It has evolved to produce greater numbers at the cost of quality to sell in greater numbers and at lower cost.

      All of our mochilas are hand woven using the single thread technique by our select group of approximately 40 expert weavers and they really are a bit special!  They are simply not comparable to the 2 thread mochilas that are widely available elsewhere!

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