The Pollera in Panama has been classified as one of the most beautiful folkloric dresses in the world and has received many international awards. There is no concrete proof how the Panamanian Pollera came about and there is no link between indigenous dresses and the Pollera. Nevertheless, there is some evidence linking the dress back to the Spanish conquerors who had a similee that transformed itself here on the Isthmus to what we know today as the Panamanian Pollera.
The Panamanian Pollera, pride to all who live in Panama, has been floating around all the continents since the 60’s, it shone in The Vatican and European courts. The Panamanian Pollera has also crossed frontiers, through beauty contests such as Miss World, where our representatives gracefully display the Panamanian Pollera and have placed it in international setting.
It’s worth mentioning, that July 22nd was officially declared the National Panamanian Pollera Day in the city of Las Tablas, through Law N° 50 of November 24th 1961, however it is during carnavals when the Panamanian Pollera receives great tribute. In all its splendor the Panamanian Pollera also shines in the National Mejorana Festival and The Pollera and Camisilla Festival] events of great tourist interest.
The promotion of the Panamanian Pollera has changed it into an exportation product for local craftsmen in cities like Houston and Miami in the United States and countries like México, Germany and other regions of the African continent. The cost of the Panamanian Pollera, could vary between one thousand 200 and 3 thousand 300 dollars.
These pieces are not sold in commercial centers, they are exclusive of homes in the interior of the country, specifically of the Azuero region, among them: San José, Santo Domingo, San Miguel, Bajo Corral and La Enea of Guararé. The Panamanian Pollera is truly a work of craftsmanship; however, in the last decade it has registered great demand. The small companies dedicated to this activity, sub contract other craftsmen, according to the orders received, who earn between 30 and 40 dollars per yard of crafted fabric.
Generally the dressmaking process of the Panamanian Pollera uses about 13 yards of fabric. It is composed of two basic pieces of clothing of high quality fabric; the camisa (blouse) and a Pollerón (large skirt), nonetheless they are enriched with braids and genuine linen laces. For the confection of the Panamanian Pollera, they use linen fabrics, holán, voilé, opal, organza, zaraza and percal to name a few. The Panamanian Pollera is elaborated by hand and its duration takes approximately between 7 to 9 months.
The works of goldsmiths adorn the Panamanian Pollera and make it more costly and not accessible to many. The Panamanian Pollera is complemented with 7 hair combs, one large hair comb, a couple of decorated hair combs, another in a balcony position, a pair of zarcillos, a medallion choker, some gold buckles for the shoes.
The first ornaments that the women in Polleras carried were natural flowers, however currently the tembleques of the Panamanian Pollera are made of fish scales, silk fabrics, chaquiras (beads), canutillos, gusanillos and pearls. The tembleques of the Panamanian Pollera imitate flowers and insects like butterflies, and arachnids like scorpions, in addition to birds such as pigeons and peacocks and the cost is between 90 and 200 dollars.
The complete set of Panamanian Pollera jewelry has an approximate value of 20 thousand dollars and this amount may vary depending on if it is manufactured in karats or if it is gold-plated. The women, who wear the Panamanian Pollera, are recognized by dressing up their heads with eye-catching “tembleques” which have that name because they move as the women dance or walk.
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