Today I'm going to tell you about the Guarani weavers of Bolivia.
The Guarani are very well known for their weaving and live in tribes, and speak the Guarani language. Their tribes range to Paraguay between the Uruguay River and lower Paraguay River, the Misiones Province of Argentina, southern Brazil as far as north as Rio de Janeiro, and parts of southern Bolivia.
The Guarani language spoken in most tribes is also one of the two official languages of Paraguay and is a signal of national distinctiveness. In Bolivia the Guarani tribes live in portions of Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, Tarija Departments. This goes as far north as Santa Cruz de la Sierra and includes portions of the Guapay, Parapetí, and Ɨtɨka Guasu (or Pilcomayo) River valleys.
This video was filmed in Brazil but will give you a look at some of the Guarani tribes:
In Bolivia they are known as the Assembly of the Guarani people. They hand weave great patterns on blankets, tops, sheets, and cloth. No one weave looks the same as any other. The lady in the photo above is making a hammock. It takes about 3-6 months to make one hammock, which she will sell for about $80.
The Guarani weavers, almost all of them women, have formed a cooperative. None of them have enough money to start a business of their own alone, so they pool their resources to buy thread, and they share the money that comes in from items sold.
They spend many months weaving. Then some of the men take their woven items to the city of Santa Cruz a few hours away to sell them. They are mostly sold in souvenir shops around the central plaza of the city. The money they earn must last them for months on end.
The Guarani culture and language is slowly being lost. They used to be nomadic and thrived, but their ancestral lands are being taken away by landowners and governments. Their history is passed down orally and will also be lost if their rights aren't respected and enforced.