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Central American Headwear

Beverly Chico

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

Central America includes seven countries: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. A tropical jungle covers eastern sections of Honduras and Nicaragua along the “Mosquito Coast.” Geography has influenced the development of clothing and headwear in this region. After the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, Europeans began dominating local inhabitants, using them as miners, farm laborers, or for maritime trade. Slaves were also transported from Africa and the West Indi

National Dress of Panama: La Pollera

Laurie Harris and Tasha Lewis

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

The national dress of Panama, called la pollera, is a strong symbol of Panamanian identity, with its unique artisanship, which is most beautifully displayed during holiday processions and folkloric dance performances, and by brides on their wedding day. This primarily hand-sewn costume consists of full gathered skirts, petticoats, and ruffled blouses, all decorated with laborious elements such as embroidery, appliqué (technique where one fabric is sewn onto the surface of another fabric to create

Folklore Influences in Mexico and Panama

Tasha Lewis

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

Appliqué and related techniques in apparel styles are representative of Mexico’s and Panama’s culture and identity. Panamanian molas, made by the Kuna Indians of Panama, were originally worn as blouses by the women. Today, molas and mola art are sold as tapestries, tote bags, and Western-styled blouses. Mexican appliqué has a long tradition in many of the nation’s traditional or folkloric dress styles, which many tourists may associate with the country. Modern-day designs using appliqué, embroide

Visualizing Difference: The Rhetoric of Clothing in Colonial Spanish America

Mariselle Meléndez

Source: The Latin American Fashion Reader 2005

Book chapter

Walter Mignolo observes that the lack of writing along with the lack of clothing and cannibalism constituted three crucial elements often used in the construction of Amerindian images: “Not having it yet or having it in excess were two cognitive moves used by Europeans in constructing the identity of the self-same by constructing at the same time, the image of the other” (Mignolo 1992: 312). Written as well as visual texts usually contrasted the nakedness of the indigenous people with the presenc

The Mola Blouses of the Kuna from Panama

Teena Jennings Rentenaar

Source: Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Latin America and the Caribbean 2005

Encyclopedia entry

Mola blouses are made by the Kuna women of the San Blas (Kuna Yala) region of Panama. The Kuna have taken European tools and techniques to make something unique, so much so that the mola blouse has become their cultural identifier. The women continue to make and wear mola blouses, regardless of the time and effort that their manufacture requires. This activity must be implicitly supported by everyone within the village, especially due to the time taken away from other communal and familial chores

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