The Story Behind Global Goods Partners’ New Kippot!
The Wayuu live on the Guajira Peninsula that spans Northern Colombia and Venzuela. While physically and culturally removed from the global centers of high fashion, their distinctive style of tightly crocheted products is recognized the world over. Using brilliantly colored cotton thread, Wayuu women create geometric motifs that express deeply rooted ancestral beliefs in mythical deities or represent elements found in the natural world, such as animals, plants and water.
Best known for creating one-of-a kind mochila, or shoulder bags, that can take as long as 20 days to make and cost several hundred dollars, Global Goods Partners saw the opportunity to expand the Wayuu women’s artistry to new products, including kippot, which they could produce in a shorter timeframe. On a visit to Colombia last year, GGP’s executive director, Jennifer Gootman, admired a set of crocheted coasters made by Wayuu artisans. She realized that by adjusting the disk shape to be slightly concave, the women could easily create a new product for a new audience. The artisans were delighted to know that a kippa was a ritual object though surprised to learn that they are more often worn by men. Like their more traditional products, the Wayuu kippot incorporate colors symbolizing the natural world.
The Wayuu are an indigenous people that have maintained a matrilineal society for hundreds of years. While women occupy a more prominent position than in most other indigenous communities in Latin America, severe poverty and little formal education limit their opportunities as well as the earning power of their male family members. Their vibrant craft is a lifeline for many Wayuu women and a source of income that translates into better health care, education and nutrition for her family.