above: Mochilas of cotton by the Wayúu Indian communities that inhabit the Peninsula of La Guajira.
For both communities, knitting is much more than a cultural activity and a legacy from their ancestors. It is a way to express feelings about their life concept and cosmology. Typical motifs are geometrical figures that represent the natural elements (animals, plants, stars, tracks, etc.). The pattern is both a personal expression by the artist and a record of events. Mochilas have a circular base and a tight compact weave. In Arhuaco wisdom the wool used for the weaving of the Mochila symbolizes time that is divided in positive and negative. It takes between 30 to 60 days to hand weave a Mochila and it is done only by women who learned from their mothers. The Arhuacos have had a turbulent past dating back to 1916 and today the cultivation of drugs is jeopardizing the Arhuacos territory and way of life. They are largely a peaceful Native American ethnic group yet still they get caught up in the middle of crossfires in Colombia.