Mochila medicine bag “Blocks”
Laura is from Colombia and for a long time she has been fascinated by the Mochila (Arhuaco bags) from the Ika people in the Sierra Nevada.
As one of our goals is to support the indigenous people of South America we decided to travel to the Sierra Nevada. We wanted to see if and how we could support the Ika.
Laura, Wouter and their sons visited a cooperation where they had a beautiful selection of big and small mochilas available. We decided to buy the smaller ones as they are perfect to be used as medicine bags.
Creation of Life
The mochila arhuaca (English: Arhuaco knapsack), or tutu iku in Ika is an artisan bag made by the Arhuaco women as a symbol of the creation of all life. For them, knitting the bag is a sacred activity to honor all life on earth. The women make it as a ceremonial work to give back to the earth what is taken out of it. The bag represents the uterus of the Universal Mother.
A Mochila usually carry indigenous drawings or representations of animals and other objects of the indigenous cosmology.
Knitting mochilas is an activity assigned exclusively to women. The materials required by the task are: sheep wool, needle and spindle. The wool is washed and dried in the sun. Subsequently, it is wound on the spindle and finally the bag begins to be knitted with the needle. Girls aged four and older are engaged in this practice along with their grandmothers.
The Sierra Indians call themselves ‘the older brothers’, and believe that they have a mystical wisdom and understanding which surpasses that of others. They refer to outsiders as ‘the younger brothers.’
The older brothers believe it is their responsibility to maintain the balance of the universe. When there are hurricanes, droughts, or famines around the world it is said that they are the cause of human failure to keep the world in harmony.
Balance is achieved by making offerings to the sacred sites to give back to the earth what is taken out of it.
- Please check this website for more information about the people of the Sierra Nevada. And feel free to donate their cause.
Survival is the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. They help them defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures
- A very interesting scientific article about the Mochila is found here. We would say a must read!
“The objective of this paper was to analyze the cognitive, social and emotional processes involved in the practice of weaving traditional bags.”