Why Colombia? Colombia is the fourth most extensive country in South America and the only country to posess both a Pacific and a Carribean coast.
Colombia boasts an abundance of nature and is the second most biodiversified country in the world. This natural wealth is found throughout its numerous humid and fluvial areas, Amazon jungle, Carribean savanahs, Andean forrests etc.
With a population of over 46 million, Colombia defines itself as a multiracial nation, with an ethnic mix of races the majority of which coming from Europe, mainly Spain and Italy. There is also a large population of African origin as well as smaller groups descended from Asia and North America. The indigenous population, which makes up 3.4% of the total population, owns 27% of the land and maintains, up to a point, autonomy to manage its community affairs, run its health systems, have control over its own education and hold jurisdiction over its own territory.
The topographical conditions of the Amazon and the Andes, added to the prolonged political conflict, have created a specific social phenomenon where different cultures and migratory groups have remained isolated, developing particular and exclusive artistic traditions and customs.
This has given Colombia an extraordinary variety of cultural expressions that explains its enormous musical and artisanal wealth.
Through the association Artesanías de Colombia, an organism dedicated to the diffusion and preservation of the traditional crafts of Colombia, we had the opportunity to colaborate with groups of artisans from the Cauca region who had been displaced by guerrilla war to Bogota.
In this first phase of the project we have tried to give these artisans, who are found living in Bogota in very poor conditions, uprooted from their land and their culture, a livelihood thanks to their traditional knowledge.
We developed the workshop together with two distinct ethnic groups, the Eperara-Siapidara and the Guambianos, throughout the month of August 2012. We followed a very natural process in which the artisans were teaching us how their traditional craftsmanship is, and we were introducing them the plastic bottle and experimenting the integration of the plastic with their natural fibres.
The artisans always have the freedom to apply their symbolic drawings and patterns and to choose the colours they will weave with. This makes every single piece an unique piece and a new project in which the artisan has the opportunity to express his cosmogony.
The Eperara-Siapidara are found in the littoral region of Cauca, a hot zone where the “Paja Tetera” palm tree is abundantly found. This is the source of the fibres for their traditional crafts which they die with locally found natural pigments.
The Guambianos, despite their geographical proximity to the Eperara-Siapidara, are an ethnic group from a cold zone situated in the central mountain range of the Andes and with a tradition which they have preserved from before the Incas. In their wool and cotton weaving they reflect the character of their country and simbolism of their culture.
Alvaro Catalán de Ocón
Enrique Romero de la Llana
Colombia local partner:
Assesed in Colombia by:
Artesanías de Colombia
Sponsored in Colombia by: