Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Waunana and their Werregue

The Waunana are closely related to the Embera and inhabit much of the same territory of the Embera. Many live in Chocó in the San Juan River basin, but there are others in the department of Cauca these are the Waunan Nonam.

I have read some estimates that say prior to 800 AD they were the same people and spoke the same language. Then, sometime between 800 and 1200 AD their language began to change and now they are as closely related as German is to English.

Their cultural and religious traditions seem to be much more cohesive than the diverse Embera, but their overall lifestyle is very similar.

I also read that there has been a lot of racial mixing between the Waunana and Afrocolombians in the Chocó region. I am not sure if this source was particularly reliable, however, I think that it stands to reason based on the following:

One of the most unique handicrafts of Colombia, WERREGUE BASKETS, are made by the Waunana Indians in the Chocó region. The Colombian official Tourism site states that the baskets probably have their origin in Africa, however, the Waunana have made the craft their own.

Using fiber from the werregue, a 20 to 30 meter high palm tree with a thorny trunk. The Waunana women can weave a vase in 30 - 60 days. The designs in the basket weave represent images of men and animals, scenes from Waunanan mythology or simple geometric shapes. The fibers of the werregue are combined with fruits and seeds that provide color to the basket.


Here is a You Tube video of some of the baskets:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_OVFOZNb2o

This is yet another great souvenir idea for your little Colombian. You can see examples of these baskets and purchase them at the following websites:

http://www.ethnogallery.com/catalog.php?action=110&cat_id=19

http://www.desilvaimports.com/products/?item_num=DAWB006C

http://www.tapirback.com/tapirgal/gifts/friends/werregue-baskets/werregue-baskets-colombia.htm

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