SAN BLAS ISLANDS

I S L A N D    L I V I N G

So hopefully by now the Netflix special on Fyre Festival has not completely ruined your perception on what it’s like to stay on a remote island with minimal resources. If you are still recovering from the Fyre Festival story, WE ARE HERE to be your support group. Follow along with our travels to San Blas Islands – we spotlight unique textiles from the indigenous Guna people and promise your faith in humanity will be restored.

 

V I B E   W I T H   T H E   G U N A   T R I B E

The Guna people, formerly recognized as Kuna, are the indigenous people of Panama and Columbia. Off the Caribbean coast of Panama, the indigenous community inhabit 49 of the 300+ islands of the the Guna Yala archipelago (also known as San Blas). And the islands. are. stunning.

The white sand islands are scattered across turquoise blue waters and covered in dense green palm trees. Guna Yala is a completely autonomous territory with the people living in similar ways to their ancestors – in small wooden shacks, hammocks as one of few furnishings, and small, dug out wooden canoes as the primary means of travel.  

 

L E T ‘ S   T A L K   A B O U T   W O M E N

As visitors, we very quickly got the sense that the Guna people held women in high regard, with women holding powerful positions as the main decision makers and property owners. There is also a great tolerance for gender fluidity, where boys may choose to be Omeggid which means, ‘like a woman.’ If this is the path they choose, the family naturally accepts and allows them to work and act like other women in the community.

Our daily meals of fried fish and fresh seafood, petacones (fried green plantains), and coconut rice were prepared with care by the strong Guna women. We also had the opportunity to intently observe as the Omeggids masterfully crafted detailed molas.     

 

M O L A S

Molas are the single most distinguishing part of the Guna culture. Meaning “clothing”, molas are bright, colorful textiles that are made from intricate needlework and used to make the blouses of the Guna women’s traditional dress. Paired with a mola blouse, the full national dress include a wrapped skirt, yellow and red headscarf, arm and leg beads, gold nose ring and earrings.

Although popular on clothing, the panels are also sewn as kitchen mats, children’s play masks, and wallets. Common patterns in the textile art include animals such as birds and geometric designs believed to offer protection from evil.

Thank you to the Guna people for the hospitality and warm meals during our stay on the islands. Their sense of community strongly resonated with us and we are proud to highlight their rich culture through molas in our gift boxes, celebrating both girls and boys, tolerance and understanding.