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Who are the Wayúu?

The indigenous Wayúu people live in the arid Guajira peninsula, divided between Colombia and Venezuela. It is a matriarchal community that has adapted itself to the harsh desert climate bordering the Caribbean Sea. The Wayúu take great care to preserve their unique cultural traditions. They have their own language (Wayunaiki) and live in their own communities (Rancherías), maintaining a separation from the outside world (Arijunas). Knitting is the principal economic activity of the Wayúu. In their legend, a spider named Walekerü taught the Wayúu women how to knit. This knowledge has been passed down, from generation to generation, representing an unbroken connection to the group’s pre-Columbian heritage. Kanasü, the art of knitting drawings, is the maximum expression of the Wayúu culture. The fascinating designs result from their use of vibrant colors, unique designs, and complex techniques employed in elaborating their knitted drawings. Geometric figures symbolize elements of nature, like animals, plants, and stars that surround the everyday lives of the Wayúu. The greater the complexity, the more valuable the design. Every Kanasü has its own name and meaning, and each bag is a unique, handmade work of art created by a single female knitter. Knitting also allows the artisans a way to express their individual creativity, intelligence, and wisdom. Their accumulated patterns represent the spirit that guides their actions and thoughts. Behind each knitted work of art is a woman, her family, and their life story. Our company, Susu Accessories, provides the Wayúu access to international markets, promoting Wayúu culture, and providing the Wayúu a path to increase their profits. These profits enable the Wayúu greater resources with which to resist the economic pressures of the outside world and maintain their distinct cultural traditions. Susu Accessories is also organized on the principles of fair trade, reinvesting part of its profits for the social benefit of the Wayúu communities. Susu means “what travels with you”. Each product is handmade and can take up to 30 days to complete. No two Susu Accessories products are ever the same.

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