As we get closer to the South of La Guajira, after a long trip crossing the desert road, we meet with Lorena Pushaina Ipiayu, who, with much kindness, hosted us for a couple of days in her mother’s Wayúu community.
At nightfall, and already more comfortable with us, Lorena starts telling us stories that reflect her way of life and ancestry. Her harmonious voice tells us how, at the age of 5, she started learning about her Wayúu ancestral knitted patterns. Rocking herself gently in her chinchorro (Wayúu woven Hammock), creating a cozy breeze, this Wayúu leader tries to recall how many threads have passed through her hands and how many patterns she has created. And with a mischievous smile, she tells us that she just realized that she has created a never ending amount of Chinchorros, mochilas, mantas (Wayuu typical women dresses), ornaments and other variety of Wayúu traditional art.
Her robust hands, that at the same time reflect her creativity and dreams, are resting over a Susu bag (mochila). With a delicate movement, she extends her arm, lifting a mochila she tells us that for 20 days the same threads crossed her hands, interweaving with a crochet needle her thoughts that generated her dreams, the colors, and the Kanasü. For herself and her community, the Kanasü is more than a knitted pattern, legend has it that it is a heritage transmitted from a spider to an old woman, yielding to the old woman’s hands the power to create perfect compositions similar to how a spider makes her web. Over time, these great knitters have generated different pattern compositions, based on almost anything that surrounds their culture, like the head of the fly, cow’s tripe, the shell of the morrocón (turtle), interlocking rods, and a myriad of other elements in which they recharged their inspiration to design their patterns.
The Lorena’s family consists of 3 sons, her husband and a beautiful young woman, which she undertakes to transmit all the gifts she got from her ancestors, “I teach my daughter because this is part of our culture and even if she goes to college and become a professional, she cannot leave who she is behind. I learned everything I know from my grandmother and my mother, and now I pass this knowledge to her. And as my daughter, she will be able to transfer this knowledge to her children someday".
The shapes reflected in their knitted bags are inspired by the exploration of their territory, letting us know that in the north of La Guajira, the land is a bit more arid and more like a desert, and in the South of La Guajira, where we are located, the land is greener with more afforestation. Thanks to this, the number of combinations of colors in their patterns is as large as the beauty in the flora and fauna of the state of La Guajira in Colombia.
When the artificial lights are turned off, the moon surprised us with its subtle shine. Lorena, going back to her stories, tells us that there are dreams that reveal future patterns, as there are other dreams that, according to our knowledge, allow the knitters to innovate an old pattern, making it an original knitted pattern of their own and slightly breaking the scheme that gives the book of the Wale'Kerü, “.. Wale ´keru is the spider, the only one that taught the Wayúu. "Making trails, it showed them how to knit and create the patterns..."
Finally, now that we feel closer to Lorena, we asked her to give us her opinion in regards of the work that SUSU Accessories is doing in this community, as well as how the knitters perceive the brand. After a silence that lasted a few seconds, Lorena raises her head and answers: "I believe that our ancestral knitting should be recognized in the world, because this is the only place in the planet where the Wayúu culture exists. I like that SUSU Accessories is showing our work to the world, in the correct way. They are strong Colombian women, that have approached us in a very personalized manner. They have built close personal relationships with many members of our community and they are involved in our social development. They know our culture very well and we feel like they are part of our community already. That is what I like about them. Also, I like how they show our ancestral art with its entire essence. They tell their clients where the product actually comes from and the significance of each pattern. They highlight our culture and, unlike many, are not solely interested in selling our product as a commercial object. They are committed to our Wayúu community and truly engage with us".