Panama between traditions and curiosities

The people

Panama is one of the few countries in the Central and South America region with a large indigenous population. Seven major tribes continue to live according to traditional lifestyles and live independently in large reserves.
The Emberá-Wounaan communities, together with the Guna and Ngäbe-Buglé tribes that populate the picturesque regions of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, the Emberá community is famous for their artistic craftsmanship.
For many years in Panama there existed a definite class system, with the richest white population at the top and the native Indians and the black population at the bottom. The divisions in society were also based on the type of work carried out, on wealth, on the type of education and on the family background. These divisions began when the Spaniards colonized the country, the local population was unable to afford the lands and properties that became prey to the settlers and with the land the settlers expanded their wealth and power.
Traditions, which have survived in modern times, include ancestral hunting, fishing and the custom of living in tall huts. Emberá women still tend to go bare-chested and wear colorful dresses from the waist down, with flowers in their hair. Another trademark is their "temporary tattoos" in ebony. For these they use a hue derived from the juice of the jagua fruit. Just like Indian henna or mehndi, the tattoo lasts a couple of weeks.

The Pollera

Panama is one of the few countries in the Central and South America. Seven major tribes continue to live according to traditional lifestyles and live independently in large reserves.
The Emberá-Wounaan communities, together with the Guna and Ngäbe-Buglé tribes that populate the picturesque regions of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, the Emberá community is famous for their artistic craftsmanship.
For many years in Panama there existed a definite class system, with the richest white population at the top. The divisions in society were also based on the type of work carried out, on wealth, on the type of education and on the family background. These divisions began when the Spaniards colonized the country, became the land and the properties that became prey to the settlers.
Traditions, which have survived in modern times, include ancestral hunting, fishing and the custom of living in tall huts. Emberá women still tend to go bare-chested and wear colorful dresses from the waist down, with flowers in their hair. Another trademark is their "temporary tattoos" in ebony. For these they use a fruit from the juice of the jaguar fruit. Just like Indian henna or mehndi, the tattoo lasts a couple of weeks.

Mejorana festival

At the end of September there is the National Mejorana Festival in Guararé, it is one of the most important folkloristic events in Panama and combines year after year all the cultural and traditional currents of the whole country. This important folkloric-traditional even gets its name in honor of the musical instrument called mejorana similar to a guitar used in popular Panamanian music and in songs called "mejoranas" romantic songs sung by men alone. During the folklore festival with the aim of saving and promoting the traditions and culture of the country, there are a series of musical presentations, competitions, folk dances, traditional songs, bull fights, folk dances and many other folkloristic expressions.
One of the most important events of the National Festival of Mejorana is the traditional parade of ox-drawn carts; a traditional parade that exhibits different traditions of the Panama countryside, regional music and the stunning beauty of Panamanian women dressed in pollen - our national dress.

The Molas

The molas are textile products that use the reverse appliqué technique to obtain brightly colored abstract designs, which the women of the Kuna population wear on the front and back of the blouses worn daily.
In fact, the grinding wheel is made by superimposing several layers of rectangular fabrics, of about 30X40 cm, each one of a different color, held in place by data points with basting threads. These various layers are worked with the reverse appliqué technique. The technique consists in sewing pieces of cloth on a wider fabric, which serves as a base, the pieces of cloth can be cut out in both abstract and realistic shapes, leaving around the cut a small border, which is folded in to avoid cloth to fray.
With sharp scissors, a notch is cut into the fabric placed higher up, so as to give a glimpse of the color of the fabric underneath. Helping with the end of a needle, fold a little of the upper fabric, orating it at small points from one side of the slit to the other, and thus revealing the design. To edge is used a thread that has the same color of the upper layer, so that the points are invisible. After having engraved the design on the fabric placed higher up, it is possible to engrave the next layer, in order to bring to light the color of the layer placed even deeper, and so on until the favorite decorative motif is completed. The materials used can be various, from different types of fabrics, to felt and leather.
Traditional molas are often deep red on a black base, with brightly colored layers between them. The Kuna molas are unique, although the same application technique is used in other parts of the world as in some minorities in Laos, Vietnam and China. The Banjara nomads of India and the people of Sindh, Pakistan, and Rajasthan, India, decorate their blankets with bold floral and abstract designs
The decorative motifs of the molas are real sewn books, which tell of everyday life Kuna. Many molas are inspired by nature, even if they take on purely geometrical forms: a cliff, intertwined palm leaves, the village streets, a rainbow, the mountain profiles. Or they may be stylized versions of animals or plants: lizards, stingrays, pelicans, eels, turtles, monkeys, hawks, snakes, cats, etc.

The Tamborito

The most widespread and most representative dance of the isthmus traditions is the Tamborito, of Spanish influence, danced differently in the various areas of Panama, with special roots in the province of Los Santos. The Tamborito, which dates back to the 17th century, is a romantic couple dance that, as the name suggests, is often performed with a group of percussionists and always with a female choir. The dancers wear gorgeous costumes and perform inside a large circle of crowds that participate in the dance. Present in all local festivals, the tamborito is one of the protagonists of the Panama Carnival.
It is a courtship dance, which begins with the applause of the crowd and the sound of the drums. While women and men take a seat inside the circle, one of the percussionists gives the signal with three drum strokes and one of the dancers responds with three bows (quiebres), the last of which moves the other dancers. One of the male dancers kneels three times (Golpes magistrales), kicking off the drum. The dance is a series of dragged steps, with the woman who moves her skirt provocatively and the man who raises her arms, in a protective attitude. At the end of the dance, the percussionist 'Repicador' gives three hits again, the male and female dancers bow again and the crowd approves by singing 'hurray'!


San Blas cruise story

Tale of the cruise on the Durlindana sailboat to discover the islands of San Blas (Panama) .....

San Blas
photo albums

Album series with the most interesting photos of the places I visited on my trip to San Blas.

San Blas
photos gallery

Slideshow of the most beautiful photos of San Blas (Panama) collected in a single gallery.

Panama City climate

Graph of the climate of Panama City, month by month with sunny days, temperatures, etc.

Trips near
San Blas

Cuba

A nation rich in ideas of cultural and naturalistic interest as well as well-known white beaches

Los Roques

360 atolls postcard that a hand Supreme lying like stardust on a platform reef emerged from the depths ....

Perù

viaggio in Perù
Inca territory with many archaeological sites, rich in colonial culture and with an incredible wild nature ....

Rep. Dominicana

Long beaches, white and fine sand, a sea of intense colors with all the shades of green, turquoise and blue ....