The Emberá are Indigenous people of Panama and Colombia.
There are approximately 33 000 people living in Panama and 50 000 in Colombia who identify as Emberá. The Emberá are a riverine people, historically building their houses along the banks of rivers. Although now most all Emberá people live in villages, towns, or urban centers, many established Emberá communities are still found along riverbanks. The majority of Embera people, who live in Colombia are settled in the northwestern, central and southern part of Colombia.
We work directly with Embera Chami fraction of Embera group. Chami means mountain and Embera means people.
Necklaces are crucial in the Embera-Chami culture, and they are worn since childhood.
The Embera believe that Women bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. The necklaces handmade by them are called Okama, which means Path around the neck.
Its complex, geometric designs, quite often large give certain level of distinction to the woman who wears it and shows her respectful place within the society.
It is a very spiritual tribe, whose goal is to protect Mother Earth including the biodiversity of the land they live in. They strongly believe in the regulation of life by their deities.
Women and man adorn their bodies with necklaces of various types. They used to use seeds and silver coins to produce it, nowadays the glass beads are highly appreciated because they reflect the nature.
Necklaces are weaved using various techniques such as wooden looms, hand strung or threaded needle. It takes each artisan from 10 to 15 days to finish one highly elaborated piece.
Combination of colors and shapes of Embera jewelry can tell you a lot about the perception of the world by Embera Chami artisans. Here are some meanings:
WHITE: clouds, peace; RED: blood, race, soul, flowers; BLUE: sea, river, sky, space; GREEN: nature, leaves, mountains; YELLOW: gold, sun, happiness; ORANGE: flowers; PURPLE : flowers; BROWN: earth ; BLACK: night.
Shapes also have their special meaning: DIAMOND shape represents four seasons, CIRCLE means community and unity, SPIRAL sense of walking.
By wearing Embera necklaces, that we have selected for you , you directly help preserve their unique culture and showcase their distinctive art to the world.