A six hour car ride from the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz, along the Rio Blanco, takes you deep into tropical riverbanks, unpaved roads, and the remote town of Urubichá. We traveled there to spend time with the group of women who weave our incredibly special hammocks – hamacas atadas – on handlooms inside their thatched-roof huts. The women who make these hammocks are guarayos – one of the indigenous groups in tropical Bolivia.
We’d been working with this group of women remotely for several years, but we wanted to really get to know them and to more fully understand how they developed such intricate techniques in such an isolated location. Drawn there to understand an ancient craft, we were looking to forge a deeper connection and make something new together.
Over centuries, the pre-Columbian technique of weaving these hamacas atadas has slowly evolved. Using handspun cotton, women fuse together macramé and crochet to create a hammock that’s delicately detailed, yet strong and boldly graphic.
The process is unique, not only to the country or region but to the work of this specific group of women, a vestige of the community’s heritage that’s been protected by its isolation.
Each hammock requires a month of careful work to complete. The hand-spun cotton thread is woven on horizontal looms – and a crocheted lace pattern is then added to line the sides while braids and tassels are attached to finish the traditional hanging beds.
Once a common sight throughout the region, home weaving looms have become almost wholly sequestered to Urubichá. Low demand and scarce raw materials have discouraged women from creating the challenging and time-consuming hamaca atadas in the traditional way.
In an effort to support this community of women and honor their artistic heritage, we’ve collaborated with the Urubichá weavers to bring their time-honored process to a broader market. At its core, the project has been one of translation.
By visiting the women where they live and work, we came to understand the process and tradition of their craft. We saw the passion they bring to a technique that’s taken years to master and generations to refine. The hamaca atada’s spirit of relaxed refinement comes from this collective knowledge.
OUR BOLIVIAN HAMMOCKS