Inspired by exceptional craftsmanship and unique patterns, CASTELLANO enhances the techniques of some of the most highly skilled artisans in Colombia and celebrates the unknown tribes that are part of our history and ethnic origins. Each CASTELLANO product carries the essence of a traditional indigenous tribe which should not be forgotten. Each piece is made by hand and carries its own hidden story and its own message.
Castellano transforms traditional ethnic creations into luxury fashion pieces and donates a portion of the proceeds to social programmes that seek to empower women and their local communities in Colombia. The Castellano Project supports the Wayuu and Arhuaca people, preserving their weaving skills and cultural heritage, internationally renowned for their quality, patterns and colours. We are currently stocking a range of CASTELLANO bags.
It is 6:30am, 28 degrees celsius and Teresa is serving coffee in her hut which is located in the vast Guajira desert in northern Colombia. Her five children have woken up. Senaida, the oldest at 18 years, is sitting with a loom in front of her. She is silent, staring intently at her weaving, concentrating on the patterns she is making. The colours and design are exceptionally striking, she is weaving a Si’ira: the most beautiful and intricate weaving technique produced by Wayuu women in Colombia. It is the first time Senaida is weaving a Si’ira, the has been passed down to her from Maria Eloisa, her grandmother, who is the only one in the family who has the wisdom and right to teach this skill.
The Wayuu people live in small settlements called 'Rancherias' which consist of four to six huts huddled in the desert. They sleep in hammocks and cook in saucepans which are suspended from hooks under the roof.
The women get up before dawn, light a wood fire and start the routine with coffee or chicha (fermented corn beverage). Some look after the cattle and attend to the agricultural work but the majority weave beautiful hammocks, Mochilas (crocheted bags) and colourful fringes that are attached to the hammocks, clothes and Si’ira belts.
Wayuu people have their own language, the Wayuunaiki. The women are hardworking, wise and disciplined with their skills and craftsmanship. It has been fascinating to learn that each woven design carries a meaning which extends far beyond its aesthetic appeal. Behind every Mochila bag is a cultural message, a story, a soul and an important subject related to their lives.
“Each Mochila bag requires our physical and emotional energy, we spend up to twenty five days weaving a large bag and more than a month weaving a hammock. In each Kanas (patterns in Wayuu language) we portray our way of life and most of all our values and beliefs”
says Teresa, as she sips her coffee in the morning sun.
Daniella, the Founder of CASTELLANO Ethnic Origins, is passionate about supporting the ethnic communities in Colombia and seeks to preserve their weaving skills and cultural heritage.
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"The aim of CASTELLANO Ethnic Origins is to help improve the living conditions for the traditional weavers, their families and the community; with an emphasis on clean water, electricity and education. We collaborate with the Indigenous Women’s Association and we work directly with Wayuu women whose handmade Mochilas and bracelets are second to none."