Handmade Crafts: Cabecár Tribe Costa Rica

handmade crafts
Handmade Crafts of Cabecár Tribe

The engagingly whimsical creatures, made by Costa Rica’s Cabecár indigenous tribe have been offered in Galeria Namu for about five years. These handmade crafts, an art form of which is the only artifact that we have from this tribe; in fact it is the only cultural expression that they make to offer tourists, what few they come across.

The Cabecarés are an isolated tribe living in the mountains Chirripo in the Talamanca Cordillera. They are less influenced by progress than the Bribri and maintain a complex clan system. Approximately 10,000 in number, they still speak their own language and practice their natural medicine and patrimonial culture and as such are probably the indigenous group with the most distinct identity retaining many of their customs and traditions.

Treading Gently via Handmade Crafts

native art
Bark Animals, Fiber Art Collage + Seed Turtles

As romantic as this authentically indigenous lifestyle may sound, it is not without challenges, some of them quite extreme such as precarious health care and minimal availability of  basic education, not to mention their rigorous living conditions. Their territory is remote, isolated and quite disconnected from the rest of the country. This is where a remarkable project, spearheaded by the Humanitarian Foundation of Costa Rica, has played a large role in opening up avenues to modern conveniences and government services without taking away from their traditional beliefs and cultural identity. Initially the project had to overcome language and cultural barriers; ten years ago the people, and especially the children, were quite alarmed by people with white skin, fair hair and blue eyes.

With time, as well as much dedication and donations, medical clinics, cultural centers and elementary schools have been established. Later, cabins were constructed to house volunteers and shortly thereafter the shy women of the villages were encouraged to create something different out of their bark fiber cloth. Thus the Curious Creatures craft was initiated. It is remarkable that over the last decade, a whole generation of children have grown up in the awareness of the confidence of their parents as they welcome hitherto unheard of visitors from outside the tribe into their villages.

So it is with pride that that we announce the debut of this lovely, fresh and innocent handmade crafts of the Cabecár on the website of Galeria Namu. We know from our experience in our physical gallery that visitors are entranced by this unusual expression of indigenous sensibilities. The little animals and collages the Cabecares have sprung to life for our delight, and in turn we can repay the gift of their candor by purchasing them knowing that the money that they receive for their work is being put right back into their well-being. Seldom is there such cause and effect in art, and we are so very honoured to be able to facilitate the process.

You’ll discover these handmade crafts listed under our Additional Collections menu; click Indigenous Arts then Cabecár Crafts.  We’d love to hear your response to them.  Sold in groupings; no two are identical. Priced perfectly for the native art collector. Go see!


2 thoughts on “Handmade Crafts: Cabecár Tribe Costa Rica”

  1. Hola,

    Mi nombre es Michelle Aponte, y trabajo en Caribbean Trading Company en Puerto Rico. Le escribo para preguntarle si me puede enviar informacion de sus trabajos de artesania. Nos interesa para comprar al por mayor. Le agradeceremos si nos envia la informacion lo mas pronto posible. Gracias por su ayuda por adelantado.


    Michelle Aponte

    1. Hi there Michelle, I wrote back to you in an email twice some weeks ago and twice my response bounced back. Did you ever see it? Let me know if you had, or if there were another email of your’s to write to. Thanks again and hope to be in touch!

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