Embera Baskets, Cocobolo and Tagua Nut Carvings

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EmberaAll of the Embera crafts on this page were created by members of the Embera Puru village at Rio San Juan de Pequini in Chagres National Park. Most of the baskets shown were created by Zuelaka Barrigon (left), and the carvings were by members of her family.

The Embera take great pride in their handiwork. Baskets are woven from natural palm fibers and colored using natural dies. Wood carvings are carved from cocobolo, a rare and extremely hard wood. Tagua nut carvings are carved from the tagua nut (uncarved, lower left of the photo) and for permanence of necessity use regular paint for coloring.

Sale of craft items is a primary source of revenue for the San Juan de Pequini Embera Puru pueblo. Cruise passengers can purchase Embera craft items on shore excursions to the Embera Indian villages. Members of the Embera Puru often offer their crafts for sale at the Christobal Pier. In Panama City at Old Panama there is a craft market with items for sale by the Embera, Wounan and Kuna. The Indians price their own craft items and tourists should be aware than Mexican-style bargaining is not appropriate. To offer a ridiculously low price is considered insulting. If you must, it is appropriate to ask, “Is that your best price?” or “Can you give me a special price?”

Embera Crafts

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3 thoughts on “Embera Baskets, Cocobolo and Tagua Nut Carvings

  1. We were on the “Thanksgiving” cruise and thoroughly enjoyed your lectures. Thought you might like to know that the cruise director “Jesse” was telling everyone to “bargain” with the people on the pier at Cristobal. You might want to educate the next cruise director so that the Embera will not be insulted by we ignorant gringos. Their work is lovely. Truly art.

  2. Glad I found your site! We’ll be docking in Cristobal and I’m very interested in picking up a nice handicraft. I don’t like to carry a lot of cash with me, can you give me a ballpark estimate of what I should bring if I want a small basket, or a tiny carving?

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