SINIC / Colombia Cultural (English version)

There are count less cultural manifestations in Colombia that express it’s population ethnic variety, religions, customs, traditions and ways of life, as well as it’s natural richness and climate diversity, geography and landscapes, among others.

In this section you will find information related to cultural issues such as archeology, festivities, myths and legends, dances and characters, from each one of Colombia ’s regions or provinces. This information will allow you to easily and quickly understand the most relevant cultural features of each region, in order to encourage the knowledge and spread of the country’s cultural richness in all its expressions.

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Colombia Cultural (English Version)

Crafts - SUCRE

The Department of Sucre, as well as Nariño, Córdoba and Boyacá, has a significant craftsmanship potential, which according to the last National Economic Census of the Handicraft Sector is calculated at 5.919 artisans. Craftsmanship is not only a work that develops parallel with other daily activities, but it is the economic support of many homes, mainly those where women are the head of household.

 

Identity and tradition historic background

 

The highest concentration of handcraft activity is in the municipality of Sampués. According to the last municipal census, more than 225 family micro-companies are registered in the municipality, 82 of them are carpenter’s shops, 42 saddler’s shops, 26 tanneries and more than 100 caña flecha plait weavers. This undoubtedly makes Sampués the municipality with the highest craftsmanship offer and production capacity in the department.

 

The handcraft work with the highest tradition is cotton weaving, of a pre-Columbian origin and concentrated in the municipality of Morroa, located in the city of Corozal’s rural areas (Don Alonso and Las Llanadas), in the new municipality of El Roble and in the township of Chochó in the city of Sincelejo.

 

The most typical basket making is the one made of iraca palm and plantain stump in the municipality of Colosó, with a high technical quality and design. Another traditional handicraft work in the department is the caña flecha weaving, of an indigenous origin, and the wine corozo palm weaving, in Sampués.

 

The Zenú Vueltiao Hat

 

It is part of the craftsmanship in these regions and it fully identifies men from the departments of Córdoba and Sucre.

 

This hat is both a necessity and an adornment for working men from these lands. It was born from the need to protect from the hot sun rays while working in the country field.

 

The Zenú vueltiao hat (in English would be something like “turned hat”) initially was in one color, tan; they used to call it “vueltas hat” (turned or folded hat) or “Indian hat”. Sun and rain related  it to the country field, especially with “vaquería” (cattle farming). It evolves and black color appears, improving its plaiting.

 

Terms “vueltas” and “vueltiao” come from the spiral turn made by the plait while forming the hat. It is called “Indiano”, because of it is origin. The habit of calling the native “Indian” is reflected in this term. “Indian Hat”.

 

Type of handcraft

The Zenú vueltiao hat is an essential part of male costume. Some wear it as a garment, other for country work as a protection against sunrays, humidity, among other.

 

Techniques used

The Zenú vueltiao hat is manufactured with caña flecha palm, by “plaiting” its fibers; you take the native caña flecha palm, remove its veins, scrape it with a knife until getting a clean fiber; it is sun dried, then cooked to give it consistency and elasticity. Sour cane, orange and lemon are used for cooking. After achieving that procedure, white and dark fibers are classified. The ones with stains are alkalinized in clay to make the base, and then they are tinted with black clay, jagua, hoyito, bija, and today they are using divi divi.

 

This process can take three days including the natural drying.

Next comes the work to obtain the fiber; from coarse “nepa”, fibers for the lower quality hat are obtained, and from fine nepa, which is consistent and flexible, are obtained the fibers for the fine hat. With ordinary fibers that don’t resist much division, the five-pair plait corresponding to thirty fibers is done; that is the “quinceano” (fifteenth) hat. If an improved plaiting can be included in the crown, the “quinceano cotejao” or “machi-hembriao” hat will come out.

With the finest nepa, finer fibers are achieved, placing 19 fibers on top and 19 below for a total of 38 fibers; that hat is called “diecinueve” (nineteenth); placing forty two fibers in the plaiting, twenty one above and twenty one below you get the “veintiuno” (twenty one), the finest and most expensive one.

 

Parts in a Zenú vueltiao hat

 

The hat block: it starts at the top of the hat with a button woven in different concentric figures; it is the upper center, the “cogollito” of the hat, the mould or block.

 

The crown: it has the form of the head; it comes down to the brim. Four folds with geometric figures until the fifth final one, which should be white. It is the one in charge to protect the man’s head.

 

The brim: it opens the hat configuration starting from the block; it has an average of twelve turns. There are hats more broad-brimmed than others. The sabaneros (people from the savannahs) especially horse riders, enjoy broad-brimmed hats and add to it a black cord that holds the chin, called “barbuquejo o barboquejo”.

 

The brim starts with a black turn, alternating both colors until getting to the trimming.

 

The trimming: is the end of the vueltiao hat. The whole work crashes against it, therefore a black reinforced plait is used. The hat is modeled with the trimming. To join plaits together, the artisan uses a pedal sewing machine. The work to sew the hat or getting the plaiting together is slow and careful.

 

The strap (correa) of the Vueltiao Hat: It is a picaresque ornament that becomes the hat finishing.  It is a short strap as wide as the plait, made of black patent leather with intertwined white trimmings, ending in a buckle to secure or loosen the crown.

 

With that belt, the hat crown is adjusted to the user’s head.

 

The barbuquejo or barboquejo: it is a long shoe lace, tied at both sides of the crown, going along the chin to hold the hat. It is very useful for cowboys and fine horses riders. It secures the hat while speeding. In general, when the horse is running very fast, the hat goes to the back of the rider, holding itself by the barbuquejo, which also comes down to the throat.

 

The drawings in the plaiting: they are geometrical figures including rhombuses, triangles, pyramids and cylinders. The hat maker has never thought about geometry to decorate his hat. He talks about figures and gives them names according to the setting: orange blossom, lemon flower, Saint Lucía’s eyes. Big Cross, Small Cross, lynx chest, cat hand, fish bone, alligator trunk, ñeque (rodent) teeth, the spider, the sardine eye, frog’s leg, dog track, tiger track, ox eye, the feather (???) of the coke, and other.

 

Putting the hat on

It expresses the habit, idiosyncrasy, origin, work and region where the user grew up. He molds or arranges the hat before putting it on, doing a fold in the front and another one in the back.

 

The vueltiao hat also reflects the economic power of its user. A “quinceano” hat identifies the poor man, while a “diecinueve” talks about wealthy or elegant people.

 

The sinuano (from the Sinú) man wears the hat pulled in the back, with a fold in the joint. In the front part, fold in the lower part and brims upward.

 

The sabanero (from the savannah) wears it pulled to the back but with no folding; he tries to give it a pipe shape.

 

The plait of the vueltiao hat is being used now in the manufacturing of small cases (petaquillas), women belts, baskets, bracelets, shirt fronts, caps, rugs, earrings, bags.

 

Handcraft economy

The vueltiao hat and the whole variety of products manufactured with its plait, are destined to fair events in Sincelejo, Bogotá, Barranquilla, Montería, Caucasia, Valledupar and the corralejas (a local and typical kind of rodeo show) held in the region.

 

Artisan population

 

In the municipality of Sampués (Sucre), the caña flecha weaving, of an indigenous origin, is associated in different groups: “The Hat Handicrafts”, “Zenú Indian Reservation in Calle Larga” and “Zenú Handicrafts”.

 

Organizations in the craftsmanship sector

 

Artisans in the Department of Sucre are registered with the Sucre Artisans Association, the Sincelejo Chamber of Commerce, Sucre’s Mixed Culture Fund, Sucre Governor’s Office and municipal mayor’s offices; these entities support artisan work both financially and through Artesanías de Colombia, by providing training on design.

 

The Hammock

 

Main characteristics of this handcraft

Vertical loom weaving with 100% cotton thread makes part of handicrafts in these regions and fully identifies the departments of Bolívar and Sucre.

 

In the Department of Sucre, this artisan modality is practiced in the Montes de María sub-region, specifically in the municipality of Morroa, and a low percentage in the savannah region in the municipalities of Corozal (township of Don Alonso) and Sincelejo (township of Chochó).

 

The municipality of Morroa is a small township, with a tropical savannah climate, located in the center zone of the department, ten minutes away from the city of Sincelejo, in the northern part of the Western Trunk Line. Its economic activity depends mainly on agricultural work, and the industrial activity amounts to no more than small yucca processing factories.

 

From the artisan point of view, it is a community that has received the oral transmission since the time of vertical looms weaving, by manufacturing hammocks, which are known by their coloring which is distributed in high-contrasted strips.

The savannah in the center of the Department of Sucre has a high artisan weaving capacity, a potential that is practically unknown among the artisan community in the country. It is an occupation that has been transmitted from generation to generation since those times it was practiced to manufacture objects necessary for every day life, in a self-consumption society. Notwithstanding, the artisan identity in this zone is practically unknown.

 

Type of handcraft

The hammock is a vital element in this zone’s homes, used for both rest and decorative purposes.

 

Used techniques

The hammock is made of 100% cotton strings in a vertical loom. It is the occupation where, by handling different-caliber flexible strings through an orderly, simple or combined crossing, with weft and warping, different type pieces are attained, according to the strings materials.

 

Tools used in artisan workshops with vertical looms aren’t sophisticated instruments, and despite requiring very specific characteristics, they don’t have a technical complexity. Tools are follows:

 

Loom

The one used in this case is called plain high castle loom, which consists in two longitudinal beams) to which two traverse beams are tied, according to the measures of the fabric to be made. The width is generally fixed, since it is determined with posts that are set on the floor; traverse beams are tied to them at a given distance, according to the fabric length.

 

Macana

It is a plain wooden paddle with all its extremes sharp. It has an approximate width of three to five cm. and the length may range from 50 cm. to one meter according to the artisan comfort. The macana is used to approach the last weft to the weaving.

 

Shuttle

To start weaving, strings are rolled on a stick that serves as a shuttle, and will go all the way through the weft.

 

Strips

They are strips made of hard and resistant wood, which are used in different functions. One, as the head to hold the warp; the other one to do the crossing that gives the order of the strings, and one more to tighten the warp; they are placed in the back of the weaving. 

 

Warp winder

It is a rustic wood structure consisting of a vertical stand that serves as a support to a circular structure where the hank is placed to allow the string to unwind without getting tangled.

 

Production process

The production process in loom weaving is divided into: dyeing and/or preparation, warping, arranging, weaving, finishing.

 

Dyeing and/or preparation

Dyeing and preparation are two different processes that are done according to the product requirements or to the raw material condition. The cotton they work with comes in hanks, already dyed and in different colors. But for the weaving they should be subject to a preparation process called sizing (gluing?).

 

Cotton hanks are sized with a starch and water solution, in order to give the string more resistance and prevent it from forming burls and thus give way to the next step, because if the string isn’t either sized or stretched, there will be inconveniences during the weaving process, such as breaking of warp strings, either because of the tension they are submitted to or because they get worn out because of the burls that also cause tangling between strings, which will make the lock difficult to open.

 

Warping

Once string hanks have been sized and dried, they are hand reeled, a procedure artisan women call “balling” (embolar), in order to arrange strings in a ball shape that allows a fast assembling (armado) or warping, since hanks aren’t easy to manipulate.

 

Warping or assembling

Once the loom has been adjusted to the dimensions of the fabric to be made, the assembling process starts; they use the one called sliding, which needs two completely smooth sticks; one of them has the function of holding the warp, to attain which it should be very resistant because it is submitted to tension; and the other one provides the crossing or the lock. Once warping has been finished, they proceed to make the reed (peine), which is made of a string that separates the assembling strings for the shuttle or the weaving stick go through and that way the weaving process starts.

 

Weaving

Once assembled, the warp is stretched by introducing one or two strips all the way through the back of the weaving. According to the product being manufactured, a portion is left with no weaving and the chain stitch is done, which will give the initial and ending limit of the fabric, and will not let it come apart after it has removed from the loom. Once the chain stitch is done, the real weaving process starts.

 

Finishings

After weaving is ready and the product so requires, the fabric is dismounted and the finishing is done. If products are placemats, they are cut bearing in mind their exact measurements, leaving the fray in the extremes.

 

For tablecloths and/or upholstery fabrics, they add an ornament of knots or braids, or ikitos made with strings that have not been weaved in the upper and lower ends of the fabric.  Spaces and the amount of strings with which the knots are done should be equal, for them to look uniform.

 

Handicraft economy

Handcrafts manufactured in loom weaving are destined to fair events celebrated in Sincelejo, Bogotá, Barranquilla, Montería, Caucasia, Valledupar, and are directly exported to Switzerland..

 

Artisan population

Textile work is essentially feminine, there are very few men who practice it or help in some of the processes. In the municipalities of Morroa, Corozal and Sincelejo (Sucre), the vertical loom weaving, from a pre-Columbian origin, is associated in several groups.

 

Roll basketmaking in iraca palm and banana bacota in the municipality of Colosó, Sucre

 

Main characteristics of handicraft

 

The craftsmanship activity in the municipality of Colosó is one of the most known and representative of the Department of Sucre. They say roll basketmaking dates back to the Nineteenth Century, but now we known it started with Mrs. Carmen Carrascal, who taught it to different women for them to know a labor allowing them to have access to an economic income and somehow cover their expenses, by taking advantage of the raw material that was very easy to get and at no cost, since the iraca palm grows easily and plantain was the harvest leftover.

 

Colosó’s artisan product suffered a recession, since they didn’t have marketing mechanisms other than their own stocking center, for which reason they started to look for markets, by participating in different fair events in Córdoba, Antioquía and Bogotá.

 

Type of handcraft

Roll basketmaking in iraca and bacota de plátano is a vital element in homes from this zone, and it is used for decorative purposes.

 

Techniques used

The production process of this textile manual labor is not complex requiring legally established workshops or tools needing technical complexity.

 

The production process for this product is classified in: raw material and its collection, preparation, roll making, assembling or sewing, and finishing.

 

Raw material

Iraca is the raw material mostly used in this manual labor; although a liana is rolled with calceta or banana flower, the core is the iraca leave vein. This fiber is also known as taquilla. Its scientific name is Carludovica palmata R y P; it is a species that spontaneously grows in low areas, river basins, at the road side. In the past, handcrafts from Colosó could be easily obtained in the country or the mountains and didn’t imply any cost; today they are facing a raw material shortage, and getting one hundred sprouts may cost them 6,000 pesos. Calceta and bacota from the banana plant are used after fruits have been removed from the plant, thus this raw material is practically a recycled waste material.

 

Preparation of the iraca fiber

Once the central sprout of the iraca palm has been cut, each leaf is individually opened by pulling up the central vein that divides it into two parts. Once opened, it is placed in a large enough pot with plenty of water (that covers the whole material), adding sour orange, baking soda or caña brava and then it is cooked. When it has boiled for one hour approximately, it is put aside until it gets cold; the fiber is then rinsed and left out on the sun to get a whiter color.

 

Making the roll

The roll is made with the iraca palm core and it is rolled with the desired material, be it iraca fiber or banana flower. The thickness of this liana should be totally even (if required by the product) and the rolling should be tightened up and well assembled, in such a way that when they start manipulating it, it won’t come apart or its core will be visible. Artisan women generally use to make the roll meters before starting the assembly process. The amount of meters is determined by the product dimensions, and they make an estimate by averaging the amount they need. The liana or the roll is made by the same person who will sew it, since each one keeps an order and location of the weaving.

 

Assembling or sewing

The weaving is done with a big hand needle; in basketmaking it is technically known as double knot. To be able to weave it is necessary to moisten the fiber, since climate conditions dry it and it easily breaks. The weaving technique is spiraling, always starting at the center; while the fiber is being rolled, the previous turn is sawn until getting the required dimension. In the case of tablemats, the construction system is modular, which requires each small square be independently woven, and then they are sawn together thus completing the whole thing. Finally, it is given resistance and structure with a final run-over all the way around it.

 

Finishing

The iraca fiber hardly measures more than 60 cm. and many times it breaks while being woven, that’s why fiber remainders stay in the weaving and they are left in the back. Once the object has been finished or during the weaving, fiber remainders are cut at surface level; this procedure should be done very carefully, because of the risk of breaking a seam or the liana winding. When the product has been totally finished, it is left out to sun dry and prevent it from getting stained by the humidity.

 

Handicraft economy

The artisan products from Colosó have usually managed popular markets due to their low costs; they are also destined to fair events held in Sincelejo, Bogotá, Barranquilla, Montería.

 

Artisan population

Most weavers in Colosó are members of the House of Culture of this municipality; this activity is exclusively practiced by women of all ages.

 

Artisan sector organizations

Artisans in the Department of Sucre are registered with the Sucre Artisans Association, the Sincelejo Chamber of Commerce, Sucre’s Mixed Culture Fund, Sucre’s Governor’s Office and municipal mayor’s offices; these entities support artisan work both financially and through Artesanías de Colombia, by providing design training.

 

Artisan promotion

Training provided by Artesanías de Colombia S.A. is open to all members of the artisan sector.

 

Other artisan occupations in the Department of Sucre

 

Carpentry

Carpentry traditionally arises from the need for home furniture: rocking chairs, benches, stools, baby-walkers, tables, living room, dining room and bedroom sets, cribs, bases for tinajas, furniture for antique washstands, flower vases, etc. Besides, the construction of the traditional wooden houses in the coast, with their variety of fretwork in doors, windows, coffering, handrails and geometrical fringes, with an Arab influence, developed the occupation among artisans who with  that specialization subsequently organized themselves in workshops.

 

Wooden carving

The wooden carving article typical of the Department of Sucre is the walking stick from Colosó, started by the Hernández family, over 70 years ago. Today, these traditional canes are been carved at the House of Culture workshops as well.

 

In other municipalities like San Benito Abad they are presenting carving works with zoomorphic themes, where the technique is independent, and instruments used are rudimentary.

 

In San Onofre they work the hand-carved wooden washbasins, which offer possibilities for develop interesting products.

 

Gourd engraving

These crafts are manufactured in the municipality of Galeras, in the workshop of artisan José Luís Galé. They are smoke black pieces, which make a negative-positive match with the engraving of the gourd surface. He makes decorative and practical pieces with animal representations (birds, alligators, reptiles), set of dishes, spoons, lamps and curtains with gourd sections. Ornamental themes are based on curved, wavy lines from a vegetable origin, as well as figurative representations of feathers or animal textures.

 

Pottery

Pottery in Sucre is especially located in Albania, a township of the municipality of San Juan de Betulia. It is a traditional activity in the department; pieces are hand modeled using a roll, decorated and hole-burned with cow pat and dried wood. These crafts keep the traditional characteristics of pre-Columbian pots, which are globular forms hand smoothed or with incised decoration, big pieces like large earthen vessels and small ones like cooking pots.

 

Tannery and saddlery

These jobs are mainly practiced in the municipality of Sampués; they follow the traditional tannery technique, which result is the native leather that provides raw material to saddlers who manufacture the abarcas (sandals), which are the traditional shoe in the coast, and to carpenters to use it in a type of rocking chairs.

 

Coconut work

Coconut handcrafts are being made by individual artisans in Tolú and San Onofre, in the north coast. Basically, they manufacture contemporary handcrafts.

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