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Guaymi [archive]

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Guaymi

Location

: Panama, Costa Rica

History

: The Guaymi were divided into two large groups: those of the tropical forest (in the highlands of Veraguas and Chiriqui) and those of the lowlands (along the Atlantic coast, from Rio Belen to Bocas del Toro). They never surrendered, fighting until the collapse of the Spanish domination in the Americas. When Panama broke away from Spain and joined Colombia in the early 19th Century, the Guaymies remained unaware in their mountain villages.

Language

: The Spanish conquistadors found three distinct Guaymi tribes in western Panama which each spoke a different language.

Daily Life

: The Guaymi today live under the laws of Panama in the provinces of Veraguas, Chiriqui, and Bocas del Toro. Their children attend Panamanian schools, but they still keep their own aboriginal customs and practices alive. Many Guaymi create textiles in the same fashion their ancestors did and sell them to tourists in markets. However, they are slowly being incorporated into the national Panamanian identity.

Best Known Features

: The chaquira, a decorative ornament worn by early Guaymi warriors, was first mentioned by European historians in documents dating back from the early part of the 17th Century. It is made of pebbles, pieces of bone, seeds and sea shells colored with homemade dyes. The ornament was traditionally worn by Guaymi men during festivals and cultural events. It remains the symbol of Guaymi culture, but is no longer considered a warrior's ornament. They are no longer produced within kin groups by hand, but are now mass produced as a source of income for the Guaymies.

Additional Reading

 Guaymi Language
 Guaymi Words
 Indian Tribes of Costa Rica

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