... Handmade Ear Rings, Aretes Artesanales

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

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Handmade Ear Rings
Aretes Artesanales

These handmade ear ringsaretas artesanales (in Spanish) are crafted by Zenú Indian artisans, natives of the Caribbean region of present-day Colombia, South America.  The "chandelier," the dangling part, of this earring consists of caña flecha fiber strips woven over a blank.  They attach by fish-hook style earwires consisting of 21 gauge surgical steel.  The vertical length of the "chandelier" is 1-1/4 inches and its width is 7/16 of an inch.  The overall earring length is 2 inches, including the earwire.

The caña flecha used to make these handmade ear rings is grown, harvested and processed to make fiber strips that are used to weave a wide variety of apparel accessories.  This work is performed by Zenú Indian artisans on a reservation near the town of San Andrés de Sotavento in Córdoba State, Colombia, South America.  The processing methods implemented are traditional, handed down from generation to generation.  Dyes used to color the fiber strips are likewise traditional, made from plants using customary recipes.  For a complete description of how Zenú Indian artisans process caña flecha for weaving purposes, refer to our blog post titled "Manufacturing and Tinting Caña Flecha Fiber Strips for Handmade Apparel Accessories." 

Indeed, weaving is central to contemporary Zenú culture.  Applying knowledge to transform simple materials into useful things, as in weaving, expresses the Zenú concept of everything happening under the sun.  Indeed, the difference between materials, or components, and finished products is the knowledge of how to incorporate the former to obtain the latter. Weaving illustrates the Zenú concept of how everything comes into being.  The Zenú often coded knowledge of various things in figures that appear in the weave of their products, particularly the sombrero vueltiao.  Information about these figures, called pintas, is available in our gallery, and in our literature about the sombrero vueltiao.
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