The Ye'kuana are an indigenous group living in the Venezuelan Amazon. They are famous for their dug out canoes and beautiful baskets and weaving which offers a glimpse into their culture. Both the men and the women weave. Young men are expected to weave and to create their own patterns displayed on guapas.
On the right, a large guapa is displayed which is used for making food. The Ye'kuana grind down the yucca root to a pulp and then use the flour to make a flat bread that is cooked over a fire, or, often dried in the sun.
Guapas serve as a symbols of union,
a family crest, for their future family before they are married. Women in the last decades have taken up a more active roll in weaving and specialize in making the the vase shaped baskets called wuwas shown below.
Form & function:
their designs reflect sacred and natural symbols from both their inner and outer worlds. Animals that figure promenently in their myths such as anacondas, monkeys, picures, baquiros, and frogs are often woven into their baskets.
Accounding to David M. Guss in his book, "To Weave and Sing", the entrance into the Ye'kuana mythic world is through basketry, focusing on the eleborate multi-faceted designs of the round wuwa baskets and the stories told about them.
"There is the one (great spirit) who created all of the baskets, and the baskets began to walk, and they entered the water after eating many Indians. They are the cayman alligators-you've only got to look at their skins to see that. An Indian doctor saw this spirit creating the first basket, and he managed to escape in time to avoid being eaten. It was a Yekuana. That's why our baskets are better made than anyone else's." - From "To Weave and Sing," written by David Guss-
The photos of the Ye'kuana people and landscape where provided by Dichenedu Yekwana who organizes expeditions to his community in Venezuela.
Click here to listen to their music.