How can a bag be a symbol of women empowerment? Or how can it even be a symbol of identity of any geographical place?
Well, if the bag is a Mochila Wayuu bag made by the expert hands of the Wayuu tribe, a tribe that inhabits the desert land between the Venezuela and Columbia, the answer can very well be “Yes”.
The women of the Wayuu tribe are extremely hard working. The Wayuu tribe is a matrilineal clan. This means that the lineage is sought from the mother’s side. The rituals of the Wayuu tribe give importance to the womenfolk. They are taught the all important tasks of cooking, sewing, Mochila bag making and looking after their husband and children. Every mother belonging to this tribe hands over the secret art of Mochila making to her daughter who has the responsibility of handing it over to her next generation. A Wayuu girl at puberty makes a Mochila which she offers to the head priest.
The art of making this bag has a spiritual significance to the tribe. In fact, at the Wayuu wedding, the bride makes two bags, one for herself and the other for her prospective groom as a symbol of love and affection.
According to the Wayuu legend, the art of weaving the bag was taught to the women by a spider called Wale Keru. He is believed to have taught them how to convert their intricate drawings into beautiful Mochila.
The Wayuu tribe is still an indigenous tribe that is also self-sufficient. The bags have now caught the attention of modern women who are attracted to its durability and colorfulness. Making of Mochila and selling them through craft fairs and other stores has now helped these women to become economically independent.