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Rainforest Baskets, Plates and Masks
of the Wounaan and Embera Indians
Darien Province of Panama
These handcrafted baskets are world class equaled only by a few other indigenous peoples around the globe noted for such fineness of stitches that they can actually hold water.
Originally these baskets were designed to do exactly that: hold and carry water, but now they are created as pure art. The women who weave these extraordinary baskets are very aware of their pieces as being works of art. They are proud of their workmanship and keenly aware of degree of quality. After you spend time with these baskets and hold them in your hands, you will be able to discern what characteristics lend to the different levels of quality. But you will also find that the more inexperienced weavers create some of the most awesome primal pieces...and that truly there are no bad choices when selecting a basket to add to your collection.
Women make the baskets but men collect the leaves from the date palm...which often grow deep in the forest and require climbing high up the trees to select the right leaves. The leaves are then stripped in to thin pieces and bundled to dry in the sun where the sun bleaches the fibers to a natural creamy color. This is the base “chunga” which is then dyed using a variety of natural roots, leaves, bark, earth, and wood shavings to create a wide palette of colors to work with. Women twist the fibers using their hands against their thighs, start at the center base, sew concentric coils , using narrow strips of fiber as thread. Women have to stop and change to another color for each design element. Production is painstakingly slow and a single basket can take many months to complete. This technique stems from pre Columbian times and remains virtually unchanged. Their geometric designs are passed down within families and are prized for their ties to their ancestry. Favorite designs include stylized images of animal and human figures of nature and village life. Purchasing these baskets helps to support these beautiful people and allow them to continue living a time old practice of art in their daily village life. Thank You.
Creature Comfortsis more than just a business. It's also a vehicle for intercultural communication and charitable giving. We helped establish a non-profit organization, 'Friends of the Wounaans', to assist indigenous peoples preserve their culture and environment, enhance educational programs, and develop economic opportunities. We were acknowledged for our generous support of the Wounaans at their 3rd National Congress, held in the village of Maje in the Darien forest, and we want to hear from you.
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