"The color for us, the ‘Wounaan’, is an expression of life that tells us about the environment in which we live. When we use color while we weave the ‘werregue’ fiber, each of those colors is telling a story about our identity, our culture and our knowledge” – Arcenio Moya, Leader Warkhi.
Applying color to the handcrafts implies to have knowledge about the plants that are native to their origin region, ‘El Chocó’, Colombia, because they get some natural colors from those plants to tincture the fiber.
Because of different reasons and motivations, some indigenous had had to move to Bogotá (The capital city of Colombia), where nowadays they are the ´Warkhi´ group.
Being in a big city has changed dramatically their environment. Even though, the ‘Warkhi’ still teach their knowledge to the new generations, keep their traditions, and continue weaving the ‘werregue’, with the difference that they have integrated new colors derived from some synthetic products and they have included new symbols related to the city, which is their new environment.
Thus, through color, they tell the memories of ‘Chocó’ and the appropriation of the city.
Let’s talk about the most representative:
‘Shibau’, white in their native language. In this case it is like an ivory color, the natural color of the fiber that represents the fog that comes early morning. They connect this color with peace and purity.
‘Shiphush’, means black. This color is obtained by dyeing the ‘werregue’ fiber with the leaf of a plant called ‘pushama’. Then, they bury the fiber in the mud for several days. The black represents the new moon, and that is the day when they can cut the plants’ roots to cultivate, and when they cut their hair.
The red, in their language ‘Shiphur’, represents the Summer flower, which is the flower of one of the most important rivers in their region, the ‘San Juan’ river, and this color is linked with life and passion.
The pallet of colors and what they communicate continue. And one of the main reasons why they have included all kind of blues, yellows, oranges, greens, etc., is because the vibrant colors are all linked to the nature, and the magic of the summer, when the trees are full of flowers and fruits, and the birds are all over the place eating.
This is what I most like of their creations, the passion and connection they have with the nature, and how they put all those good vibes, and their symbolism knowledge in the products they make.
I hope you guys enjoyed this lecture, do not forget to leave me your comments here!
*‘El Chocó’, department of Colombia, located in the west of the country with a wide coastline on the Pacific Ocean, and with its northern border on the Atlantic Ocean.