Brightly colored with beautiful patterns, Mochila Bags are known around the world for their eye-catching designs and have become a cultural symbol for Colombian identity.
Originally handmade by the women of the indigenous Arhuaco tribe of the Sierra Nevada in North Colombia, the bags were woven with natural fibers such as agave and cotton, however today tend to be made with industrial fiber for added strength. Traditionally, the women of the tribe learnt to weave at a very early age from their mothers and the first mochila bag they made was given to the tribal priest for the rituals of the life cycle.
Meaning ‘bag’ in Spanish, each lovingly-made Mochila bag is a piece of art in itself, with unique designs, patterns, figures, geometric shapes, and vibrant colors. Each design identifies a different belief or divination, such as the ‘gamako’ (the frog), which is the symbol of fertility; the ‘aku’ (the rattlesnake), which symbolizes time and space; or the ‘phundwas’ (the snowy peaks of the Sierra).
Traditionally, the bags were used for various reasons such as storing personal belongings, to carry cocoa leaves, or for food storage. When a couple was married, two bags were weaved for both the bride and groom to symbolize their love.
Today, the brightly colored, striking designs of the Mochila bag have not only become a unique fashion style statement, but also a symbol of Colombia’s younger generation staking claim to their indigenous culture.