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Finatur: Gaining Acclaim for Indigenous Artists in Colombia

En español

Bazaar Artist Spotlight

By Mariana Navarrete (CS Intern)

Finatur Design is a cooperative in Colombia whose members create original and exclusive handmade products using traditional Indigenous methods. With more than 30 years of experience, Finatur Design currently supports approximately 1,500 families in 5 Indigenous communities: Zenú, Wounann, Wayuu, Arhuaco, and Kamentsa. The Indigenous artists who initiated this project have developed it in hopes of creating “designs well- rooted in their past but looking forward to remaining in the future.” Magno Caterino Mahecha Lopez (Panche), CEO of Finatur, shares that his “main job is not to sell handcrafts, it is to make the communities visible. The recognition of their existence is the basis of future respect for their life and ancestral knowledge.”

Finatur Designs features four collections that are based on different techniques traditional to Colombia. The Zenú collection is rooted in pre-Columbian Zenú or Sinú cultures which specializes in the caña de flecha (arrow cane) art. The Wayuu collection features products from the Wayuu Peoples who live in the Guajira Peninsula in the northernmost part of Colombia and northwest Venezuela. The Morroa Weavers collection features products from Morroa, “a colorful village where threads are fused by the hard work of the many inhabitants who are devoted to the noble craft of weaving hammocks, those famous nets in which humans wrap themselves up during their times of relaxation and daydreaming.” And finally the Zuncho collection incorporates plastic strips braided to create beautiful, traditional pieces.



In September 2021, Cultural Survival featured two of the cooperatives artists, Reinel Antonio Mendoza Montalvo (Zenú) and Ana Mariana Flores Mendoza (Zenú), in Episode 6 of our podcast, Hecho A Mano, where they spoke about the traditional art they create for the cooperative, as well as their journeys in art, traditions, Indigenous identity and nature. Mendoza's and Flores' work focuses on the creation of art crafts with caña de flecha. Fiber is extracted from the leaves of the caña de flecha by hand and it is then processed in order for it to be ready to weave into diverse pieces, such as hats, purses and other accessories. The caña de flecha strips “can be stained and colored with many local plants such as leaves, roots, mud, clays, seeds, and powdered minerals. After being dyed, the fibers are woven in pairs of between 9 and up to 28 pairs, the highest quality being the more pairs the braided ribbon has,” says Lopez.



Reinel Antonio Mendoza Montalvo of Finatur.

Throughout 2021, Finatur Design has carried out a number of activities that have been recognized on a national and international level. Master Craftsman Reinel Antonio Mendoza Montalvo, along with Master Craftswoman Luisa Flórez and her son Hander Esquivel, collaborated with Disney in the creation and design of traditional Colombian hats for their most recent movie “Encanto.” Mendoza Montalvo stated, “My participation in the Disney movie ‘Encanto’ was providing information about the work that is done with the cane fiber, the history of the vueltiao hat in our Zenú community, and accessories made in caña flecha… years of work has given us recognition as master craftspeople representing the culture of the vueltiao hat.” The cooperative also participated in a number of events and projects that center around bringing visibility and recognition to Indigenous communities nationally and internationally. Lopez, along with Mendoza, represented the cooperative at the International Folk Art Market (IFAM) held in July 2021 in New Mexico. They also worked to build alliances with Power By People, NEST, Cultural Survival, and Tory Burch to bring more visibility to Indigenous arts, artisans, and communities.

Finatur Design also played an important role in the development of the Alternative Report of Indigenous Peoples of Colombia and the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda from the Vision of Indigenous Peoples report during Colombia’s Voluntary National Review at the 2021 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development by their Co-CEO Diana Acosta. The report aims to contribute “to the construction of the social fabric and the recognition of the national reality of Indigenous communities in Colombia.”


Finatur Designs has made much progress over the past three decades in their mission to increase the visibility of Indigenous arts and cultures nationally and internationally. Lopez encourages everyone “to continue being part of these achievements as strategic allies to build a social fabric that improves quality of life, good living, and the well being of Indigenous Peoples and communities in vulnerable situations in Colombia.”

All photos courtesy of Finatur.


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