The Wayuu Culture, Customs to Explore

In Wayuu culture, there are still many unexplored aspects that require further exploration, as certain elements remain less known or discussed. As observers, we have witnessed that this culture is rich with enduring customs and beliefs. Here are some of them:



Kanasü, the art of weaving designs, is an integral part of Wayuu culture. Transitioning to specific examples, Kanasü patterns can be observed in chinchorros (hammocks) and mochilas (bags), highlighting their significance. Moreover, each Kanasü holds a distinct meaning, subject to variation depending on the weaver. Notably, these designs often depict important figures within Wayuu society. In terms of technique, Wayuu weaving employs two traditional methods: crochet and loom weaving. The act of weaving itself carries weight in terms of family lineage and social standing. Notably, Wayuu textiles stand out due to their bold and contrasting colors. Furthermore, Kanasü serves as a means for Wayuu women to demonstrate their concentration and preserve the ancestral history.

According to Ramírez (1995), the more complex the kanasü, the more valuable the piece becomes and the more highly regarded the woman who can weave it. The kanasü designs are interpretations of nature and everyday life in the Wayuu world. The kanasü designs are highly intricate geometric figures, meticulously stylized, and each one possesses its own name and meaning. In other words, the complexity of the kanasü determines its price and the skill of the weaver enhances its value. These designs, inspired by nature and the daily experiences of the Wayuu people, showcase intricate geometric patterns that carry specific names and meanings.

A’lania or against

Within Wayuu culture, the a’lania assumes a prominent role as the physical embodiment of their ancestors, thus occupying a significant position. Transitioning to its purpose, the a’lania acts as a powerful talisman, safeguarding individuals against misfortunes and malevolent energies. As the torchbearer of this treasured relic, women inherit the a’lania upon the demise of their mothers, ensuring its lineage continues. Preserving its sanctity, the a’lania finds refuge within a protective red bag, containing smaller red bags that symbolize subsequent family generations.  Consequently, safeguarding the a’lania becomes paramount, requiring it to remain concealed and shielded from any external exposure.

During this time, a special meal is prepared for the a’lania, and it is when the meal is served that the a’lania is brought out, allowing all the ancestors to be nourished. Neglecting to feed it may cause it to lose its energy. It should not be used for malicious purposes or to wish harm upon others. Its primary purpose is to protect the Wayuu family. People actively use the a’lania during encierros (ceremonial seclusion) to provide protection to someone who has experienced something unfortunate.

The use of the color red

In Wayuu culture, people actively utilize the color red due to its great significance in deterring malevolent spirits from disturbing individuals. It prominently plays a role during the encierro (ceremonial seclusion) of individuals. Women often wear a red blanket when they mourn the death of their husband or a family member. Moreover, the Wayuu people incorporate red into the chinchorros (hammocks) of infants, creating a protective space where no spirits can disturb them.


Transitioning to the topic, the Wayuu people attach great significance to the color red when it comes to the tüumma stones. In their quest to ward off malevolent spirits, the Wayuu people employ a specific method. The exclusive polishing of tüumma stones in a striking red hue. These stones, meticulously crafted from red jasper, carry profound symbolism within Wayuu culture, representing concepts of purity, wealth, and even sacredness. Both men and women can wear tüumma stones, although women tend to wear them more frequently.

The Wayuu people believe that these stones should accompany gold rather than other materials like copper or silver, as they can melt. The tüumma serves as an object that guarantees respect and peace among Wayuu clans and families. The Wayuu people pass down these jewelry pieces from generation to generation and present them to young women when they emerge from their encierro (ceremonial seclusion), highlighting the woman’s beauty.

To read more, click here

All search results