Arhuaco Nation Artisans


The Arhuaco nation artisans are indigenous communities of the northern Colombian region of the Sierra Nevada, close to the border with Venezuela. Their incredible woollen Arhuaca Mochilas and artisan bags have come in recent years to symbolise Colombian identity. These Chibchan-speaking people are profoundly spiritual and descendants of the Tairona culture.

The traditional colours of their mochilas are typically earth tones, ranging from brown and beige to black and grey. More recently, brighter colours have been used. The bags all carry indigenous drawings or representations of animals and other objects of Arhuaco cosmology.

Some of the most important cultural symbols are the:

  • Gamako (frog), the symbol of fertility
  • Aku (rattlesnake), which symbolizes time and space,
  • Kaku serankua (the creator of the Sierra father),
  • Gwirkunu (hills and lakes),
  • Urumu (snail),
  •  Kanzachu (tree leaf)

Arhuaco men traditionally used three bags:

  • Chige Kwanu, to save personal belongings
  • Zizhu, to carry coca leaves,
  •  mMasi, to hold their poporo

The women carry the:

  • Tutu Gawa made of agave.
  • The tutu chakeai
  • Jina kau (white, cotton, without drawings)
  • mamu (spiritual sage of the arhuaco).

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Arhuaco Bags