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From the field-Colombia

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Weaving Traditions

Expo display1

Expoartesanias. Photo by NASA U'Y DXI'J

 "Weaving for the native communities of the territory is a way of entering into the heart of the Nasa, of telling the story, remembering the origin and finding the wisdom of the ancestors." "Each time we have a Nasa weaving with us, it not only decorates and embellishes our body, it also embellishes our spirit, because it reminds us that our origin can be found written in each weaving; it reminds us of our life’s philosophy, in them you can read our way of life." (Nasa thought)
In 2005, the group NASA U`Y DXI`J, Hands that Weave Life of the Ancient Territory Sa`th Tama Kiwe in the department of Cauca, Colombia, began its work strengthening the traditional and ancestral knowledge of symbology, which they considered essential in understanding their identity and how it related to the world view of the territory. In the years that followed NASA U`Y DXI`J focused its work on the women and youth of the region who faced various obstacles upon relocating from the Indigenous Reservations to urban areas. Some were found begging on the streets, others working without labor protection, and others ended up swelling the rows of the army forces.

In early 2007 trying to find alternatives, the group decided to begin a project to support the art of weaving and other productive activities such as stockbreeding, ovine production, and coffee production. In 2009, the Inter-American Foundation accepted their proposal and began to give them financial support. This resulted in the formation of weaving producer groups in six regions extending over three municipalities of Cauca: Piendamó, Silvia and Caldono. The main goal was to improve the quality of production while focusing training on reviving ancient traditions through the art of weavings.

In the Manos de Oro [Golden Hands] Exposition in Popayán from April 1st to the 11th 2012, the artisans won a prize for having the best samples on display, guaranteeing them a space at the Expoartesanías - Corferias Bogotá, the largest artisan fair in the country. With great excitement, they participated in this event, which is recognized as one of the most representative artisan fairs in the country in December, 2012. Particularly, they demonstrated two types of weaving, spinning and loom, to reinforce the existence of a tradition that lives on in Colombia and that has been practiced since ancestral times.

During the artisan fair, they made multiple contacts with merchants interested in selling the products through artisan centers. Of great importance was the project’s technical assistance that has allowed the group to develop communication tools such as their website. Also, during their participation in the artisan fair, they had the opportunity to create new friendships with people from other indigenous communities, which opened a space for the exchange of knowledge. In conclusion, the artisans’ participation in Expoartesanias gave them a unique opportunity to demonstrate their work while at the same time learning how they could continue on the path to accomplishing their goals of providing stability for indigenous families in a manner consistent with the families’ own practices and cultural values.−Priscila Silva, IAF Program Assistant and Christina Achinte, Asociación de Cabildos Ukawe’sx Nasa Cxhab Adviser.