Panamenian Typical Costumes and Peasant Week.

Blog by Maria Isabel Zapata.

(second part of the blog Traditional costumes of Panama and some Central & South American countries)

As the Peasant week of Panama comes closer I find myself looking for traditional costumes for my kids. And I realized Panama has one of the most complex and elaborated costumes of the world! No wonder they are also one of the prettiest and most expensive costumes. Only the “Pollera” (dress) can cost up to 6 thousand dollars, and when you add up all the accessories and jewelry that can be around 300 and 500 dollars more.

Now that is if you purchase fantasy accessories and jewelry. The tradition dictates that the “tembleques” (hair accessories) are made of pearls and the jewelry pure gold, for a total of up to 50 thousand dollars! There is also different kind of Polleras depending on the region and type of festivity : Pollera Montuna Santeña, Pollera Coquito, Pollera tireada, Pollera blanca and Pollera de Lujo.

tembleques

So it was time to decide the kind of pollera I wanted my daughter to wear for their “Gala tipica” at school and Veronica, the Chef here at Casa the Montaña, offered to help me making her dress. I was so excited! I went looking for all the accessory’s and my son’s costumes around the town of Boquete, and found this little store with tons of different dresses, tembleques and shirts for my son.  This is where I found out I knew nothing about these traditional dresses as the owner told me each dress has rules of how many tembleques and jewelry should each of them wear, the color and type of the shoes and how should I style my daughter’s hair!

So I decided to investigate a little deeper and this is what I found:

Pollera Montuna Santeña

This is one of the most valued skirts and most appreciated by the people of Las Tablas and its surrounding areas, precisely because of its bright colors and the delicate touch of the work done in the shirt, which always match the color of Pollerón. Even though this is not considered a Pollera de Lujo this beautiful style for sure captivates the looks of the people.

The Montuna Santeña or Zaraza is complemented with earrings, a flat chain, the Guachapalí chain and the Tapahueso with a gold medal, for the head a set of combs with a tortoiseshell frame with a thin gold blade with pearls and bright stones inserts, a pair of buns and a pair of Colored Tembleques known as Pimpollos.

montuna-santena

Pollera Montuna with Basquiña

When I saw this Pollera, which is so simple yet beautiful I decided this was the one I was going to do for my daughter.

This Pollera is an stylized model of the Pollera  Montuna Santeña, it uses a solid color or pattern skirt with a white shirt called Basquiña.  The headdress for this pollera could be a set of colored tembleques on one side of the head with hair combs.

The jewerly for this Pollera as opposed to the Pollera de Lujo does not need too many colors, one or two colors is fine, but you can add pendants (Zarcillos).

I almost cried of joy when I saw my daughter all dressed up. My son went also as a Montuno which consist of a off-white shirt, jeans and “cutarras”, sandals originally made of leather.

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The white Pollera (Pollera Blanca)
This pollera is made with fine white fabric embroidered with designs and also in white thread. La Pollera Blanca is within the category of Luxury Polleras and is made in similar way. For its white elegant color is usually used for weddings.

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The hair is decorated with fine” tembleques” usually white . The jewelry for this Pollera is unlimited and can be used with all the items that you can get but avoiding saturation so they can be appreciated.  In the head the combs that are used are the “Balcony”, the “Thoughts” and the “Large-comb” at the back, and a ” Pajuela”, which is a leaf form comb.

The earrings can be “tendrils” and in the neck you can use the “Tapahueso” or a fine “Golden Necklace” in its replacement. The chains you put on the chest are made of gold and are usually seven of them.

The shoes used for this Pollera are lined in silk or satin matching the grating and streamer color.

Luxury Pollera (pollera de lujo o gala)

pollera-de-lujo

The Blouse  consists of a basic frame of a shirt that covers the sleeves. On the outside is composed by the top opening of the shirt adorned with braids and two roundabout pieces, a top and bottom one slightly gathered together  and worked with different labors, braids and lace.

 

These Polleras carry a special work made by national artisans that are sewed directly to the white fabric.  Among the names of these techniques we can find “Talco en Sombra”, “Sombreado”, “Calado”, “Zurcido” and Talco al Sol.  When these parts are finished they are assembled together with a type of lace that is handmade called “mundillo.

Because most of the parts of this Pollera are handmade it will take between 6 months to one year to be completed which is reason why that makes this pollera a very expensive one.

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There are a lot of photographic companies where you can rent this pollera and take pictures with it without the necessity of buying one. Here at Casa de Montaña we have amazing gardens where you can arrange to take beautiful outdoor pictures!

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