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Si'ira // Introduction

This book tells the story of a special belt, the si’ira, woven by one of the most accomplished hand weaving indigenous peoples of the world. The women of the Wayuu from the dry and windy Guajira peninsula of Colombia and Venezuela weave the adorned loincloth belt or si’ira for their men and sons on the simplest of upright looms applying a score of intricate textile techniques. They manipulate their warps and wefts steadily, with immense patience and sublime skill to produce their bold and balanced designs.

The history and geography of the peninsula and the matrilineal society of the Wayuu are touched upon in the introduction as a backdrop to the central role played by textile crafts in daily life.

An extensive collection of woven line and pattern designs is to be found in the "gallery", where samples from the Wayuu weavers and from private and museum collections are brought together, illustrated and analysed. Whilst new designs are being added to this living craft, much information is also lost. It is this part of the book that will be most interesting to the Wayuu weaver, because they work from example or memory.
The book ends with a practical guide on how to weave your own si’ira, with all its twined and pleated binding cords and colourful pompons.
Follow the clearly outlined steps of a complete project. All you need is a simple loom (construction drawing provided), some general weaving experience and plenty of patience. The work and the result will be most rewarding, as you learn and appreciate the supreme weaving skills of the Wayuu.

The author, Mirja Wark (1954), is an enthusiastic weaver, weaving teacher and organizer of textile tours. She has written numerous articles and short notes about weaving and related subjects in the Dutch/German craft journal "Handwerken zonder Grenzen/Ornamente" and recently about “Weft-twined purses” in the Journal of Oman Studies. She lived in Venezuela from 1991 – 1994, during which time she enjoyed the hospitality of the Wayuu on a number of occasions to learn the art of weaving a si’ira.

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