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Wayuu Artisanas Mariangelica Ortiz & Carmen
Arhuaco Indian artisanas Ana Ilba Torres & Company

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"Corazón de Jesús"

Essentially, this pinta is similar to "The Sacred Heart," a painting found in many homes, which represents the heart of Jesus.
La Cruz de Mayo (The Cross of May):  one of only two categorically "religious" traditional Zenú pintas.

Some Zenú artisans commemorate The Cross of May.  They made this pinta in its honor, and to decorate the sombrero vueltiao.  Some believe wearing a hat bearing this pinta protects them from evil.
Las Crucecitas (The Crosses)": 

One of only two categorically "religious" traditional Zenú pintas.

Like "The Cross," this pinta commemorates The Cross of May.  The plurality of its name simply reflects the number of crosses in it.
"La Iglesia (The Church)"

This Commercial pinta was named for its depiction of the church, and the religious beliefs of the people in the village where it was made.
"Copitas Ceremoniales (Ceremonial Cups)"

This Commercial pinta represents the clay cups that were used in festivals or religious rights.
Traditional ​Pintas of Animals
Religious Pintas 
La Lechuza, The Owl

The similarity of the appearance of the central, quadrilateral figures in this pinta to that of the eyes of an owl inspired its name.
La Boquita del Grillo, The Mouth of the Locust

From 1902-1905, locusts plagued the crops.  Farmers watched over the fields, and when the locusts were mating, they swept them into the river to drown.  Around this time, the women fashioned this pinta after  this creature’s mouth.
This pinta was made with an observation of the eye of a rooster in mind.
El Morrocoy, The Turtle

This pinta was woven with the shape, and the marks, of a turtle's shell in mind.  Its shape approximates an oval, and the small, white quadrilaterals depict the yellow marks of the turtle's shell.
La Cocá, The Guinea Hen

The black and white points in this pinta collectively resemble the plumage of its real-world counterpart, the Guinea Hen.
Los Dientes del Ñeque, The teeth of the Rodent

The three strips of fine points in this pinta form a figure that looks similar to a set of ñeque teeth.  A ñeque is a rodent similar to a squirrel without a bushy tail.
El Gusano, The Worm

In the1940’s, worms plagued the crops. Farmers worked constantly to stop them from ruining one crop after another.  Due diligence required the women to join their husbands in the field, however, they kept up their weaving; so came this pinta.
El Ojo del Pollo, The Eye of the Chicken

The difference between this pinta and The Eye of the Gallo is the size of the pupils- a hen has smaller pupils than a rooster.  

Also, notice that the hen's eye transitions first to one figure, and then to another... this pinta has two faces.
El Ojo del Conejo, The Eye of the Rabbit

This pinta is named for the size of its central figure, relative to its outline, which is consistent with the proportionality of a rabbit's pupil to the rest of its eye.
The Eye of the Cow, El Ojo del Vaca

This pinta is named for the likeness of its appearance to a certain seed, or nut, which is similar to a Buckeye.
La Araña, The Spider

This pinta gets its name from the contrast of its figures, which give it the appearance of a spider.
La Mariposa, The Butterfly

Our ancestors contemplated the things they saw in nature.  They crafted this Pinta, in which a succession of points divides pairs of wings, to record their observation of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly.
La Mariposa, The Butterfly

Truly, each Pinta represents a great deal of knowledge, while showing only a hint of its content.  Pintas are characterized as such by this exhibit- which shows the many phases of the metamorphosis represented by this particular Pinta.
The Leg of the Frog, La Pata de la Rana

This Pinta is named for its three- segmented structure, which is like the structure of a frog's leg.
The Ribs of the Cow, La Costilla del Vaca

This Pinta was named for its black and white diagonal stripes, which resemble the external appearance of a cow's rib cage.
The Chest of the Water Turtle, El Pecho de la Hicotea

This Pinta is named for the similarity of its markings to those of the underside of a water turtle
El Pecho del Morrocoy, The Chest of the Land Turtle

The shapes of the marks on the underside of a land turtle are not well defined.  However, their shapes are similar to heart figures, or to the letter "M."  This Pinta was named for this similarity.
Espinoza del Bagre. Spine of the Catfish

This pinta is named for its shape.  The defensive spines of a large catfish, which are barbed, make an excellent  gaff.
María Palito, Walking Stick

This pinta depicts a walking stick, which is the reason for its “leggy” look.
The Chest of the Cricket, El Pecho del Grillo

This Pinta was named for the similarity of the figure formed by its stitches, collectively, to the markings on the chest of a cricket.
In the Words of the Zenú:

"Weaving and Sharing our Zenú Artisan Heritage

Mother Earth gives us the Arrow Cane, Caña Flecha, which is the raw material with which we Zenúes have built and maintained the past, the present and the future of our people.

In the intertwining of the fiber, history has been woven…songs, legends, myths, stories, beliefs, games, first words, first steps, customs, rules…braids made a thousand times…taught by grandparents to parents, from the parents to children, generation to generation.

The fabric is part of our history, our identity. It is inherent to our culture. The geometric patterns depicted by the Pintas on our fabric serve to distinguish elements of nature. They are the stamp that is our legacy from our ancestors."

Translation by Aboriginal Arts, LLC

Zenú Indian woven products in caña flecha (arrow cane), the sombrero vueltiao in particular, are decorated with interwoven "pintas."  Traditionally, pintas served as mnemonic devices; they recorded Zenú Indian history, including records of experiences, observations and beliefs.  Some pintas are totemic elements, identifying the family or clan that makes it.  While the knowledge of the weaving process for crafting many of the traditional pintas has been lost, some 82 of them are yet made by the current generation of Zenú artisans.

Gallery of Zenú Pintas

There are several categories of Pintas, including animals, objects, plants, constellations, music and dance, persons, religion and customs. The "face," or image, shown in each Pinta may reference a practice, song, legend, myth, story, belief, game, discovery, custom or rule. For example, The Mojarra, which depicts a fish, encapsulates childhood memories of fishing in the streams for mojarra (talapia), and the knowledge of this activity.

Each of the following transitional photographs "morph" between a Zenú pinta and its real-world counterpart. Click on a Pinta for a larger rendering, and more information. For faster loading subsequently, use the "next" or "previous" buttons to move between Pintas.


Aboriginal Art Gallery
Galeria del Arte Aborigen