I attended a wonderful event at a friend's house in south Florida over the weekend and met two most amazing ladies. Alexandra and Paola are from Columbia and are doing wonderful things to promote and preserve the ancient and rich culture of their homeland through their company Cordobags.
On a trip home some years ago they stumbled upon a line of woven products - bags, hats, mats and such - that were woven of natural materials by an indigenous matriarchal tribe, the Wayuu. Upon returning home the bags they purchased brought so much attention and favorable comment that the ladies decided to develop a market for the goods. They have developed and nurtured a beautiful relationship between themselves and the native artisans. Together they design, produce and market some of the most beautiful objects I have ever seen.
According to legend, the Wayuu weaving tradition comes from Wale´kerü, a spider that taught the women how to weave. The life experiences of the Wayuu women are expressed in the many shades and shapes of their weaving. For Wayuu women, their mochila (shown above left), a kind of knapsack, is not just a bag, but a carrier of their identity. Women rule and live around weaving in a literal and metaphorical sense: they are the threads that unite families and clans. Each mochila takes one woman an average of 20 days to create.
The Caña Flecha collections are crafted by the Zenu Tribe. Caña Flecha is a type of palm which the natives grow on their land without fertilizer and in most cases, the Caña Flecha is then dyed by fruits, vegetables, and plants. Once it is dried the artisans use a technique of braiding the palm that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Production of the bags is a family activity. Alexandra and Paola are solely responsible for providing these skilled artists access to a market for their goods. They help the artisans grow by teaching them business skills, bringing the tribes clothing, shoes and toys and helping them with community improvement projects.
Alexandra and Paola are obviously pursuing this endeavor for their own business reasons, but their dedication to their heritage and their native culture is sincere and their love for and attention to their artisan friends is to be commended. Check out their site.