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This indigenous group inhabits the rivers and Pacific coastline of the densely forested regions of eastern Panama and northwestern Colombia. They share many cultural and historic traits with the neighbouring Wounaan, but their languages are mutually unintelligible.

Historically the Wounaan were known as specialists in the arts and the Emberá were the warriors. Both groups work with the split, and naturally dyed chunga palm leaf: the Wounaan creating vessel-like baskets and plates and the Emberá creating their unique and whimsical woven masks.