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Ngöbe (Guaymí)

Ngöbe (Guaymí): Members of this traditionally semi-nomadic tribe, commonly known as the Guaymi, and originally from Panama, have been living in Southern Costa Rica for several generations. Agreements between the tribe and the Costa Rican and Panamanian authorities allow the Ngobe to pass between the two countries at will (especially during the coffee harvest when many indigenous people enter plantations for paid labour). It can be said that the Ngöbe are the least acculturated tribe in Costa Rica, often preferring to live in isolated hill and forest communities and only speak Spanish when necessary (some tribes people, especially among the women, don’t speak much Spanish at all).

The Ngöbe are perhaps the most colourful tribe in the country as the women still wear the traditional pollera dress, a hand-sewn, appliquéd one-piece dress of remarkable colour combinations and fullness. Adding more patterns and colours to the Ngöbe womens’ attire are the patterned chacaras, woven agave fibre bags, and brightly coloured beaded jewelry called chaquira. It is noteworthy that these articles are for daily use among the Ngöbe.

The gallery also features well-made and attractive Ngöbe dolls as well as mastates, beautiful art pieces made using natural dyes on bark fibre panels made from the mashed inner lining of the bark of the balsa tree relative, this material is their ancestral bed and body clothing. Ngöbe villages are found in the San Vito – Coto Brus region, the Osa Peninsula, Burica Peninsula and the Costa Rica-Panama frontier.