Pollera de gala - Image by Ayaita

Pollera de gala - Image by Ayaita


Panama is a small but beautiful Spanish-speaking country of the Central America situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America. Before the arrival of the Europeans, especially Spanish settlers, this island country was inhabited by the indigenous Indians. The prominent indigenous tribes of Panama were the Cueva and the Coclé whom were largely annihilated by the Spanish colonizers during the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century, the areas were occupied by Kuna (the native Indians of Panama) who were living in Colombian region of Uraba before the Spanish invasion.

A native artisan from Panama - Image: Ben Beiske
A native artisan from Panama – Image: Ben Beiske

Traditional dress of Panama is mainly influenced with Spanish culture but the Kuna people have kept the indigenous dress alive to some extent. The traditional clothing of Kuna women consists of hand-made blouses known as “molas” with skirts.

The traditional clothing of Kuna women consists of hand-made blouses known as “molas” with skirts. - Image by benkucinski
The traditional clothing of Kuna women consists of hand-made blouses known as “molas” with skirts. – Image by benkucinski

Their dresses are sewn with a reverse appliqué technique. The women also colorize their faces and noses with a special paint which they prepare from achiote seeds.

Dresses of Kuna women are sewn with a reverse appliqué technique. Photo: Rita Willaert
Dresses of Kuna women are sewn with a reverse appliqué technique. Photo: Rita Willaert

The Kuna men wear a traditional Kuna shirt with pants, jeans, or shorts. The Kunas cultivate in their lands plantain, bananas, and avocados, among other fruits and some tuber plants like manioc and ñame.

Indigenous Panama women in traditional costumes - Image by  Rita Willaert
Indigenous Panama women in traditional costumes – Image by Rita Willaert

The eating habits of Kuna people are also unique as they love to eat hunted food, a special fish (Tilapia) and plantain.

The traditional clothing of Kuna women consists of hand-made blouses known as “molas” with skirts.
The traditional clothing of Kuna women consists of hand-made blouses known as “molas” with skirts.

Originated from Spain, La Pollera is the symbol of pure Panama heritage. This is the national dress of the women of Panama. Earlier in the nineteenth century, pollera was worn by housemaids or nurses but later on it was adopted by women of every class in Panama. It is pertinent to mention that Pollera is not restricted to Panama only, but the dress is adopted by women of many other Latin American countries by making little transformations according to their own choices and needs.

A preety Panama woman showing her hand-made Pollera - Photo credit - Roman Königshofer
A preety Panama woman showing her hand-made Pollera – Photo credit – Roman Königshofer

Hand-made pollera is the favorite preference of the Panama women which is not only worn by them in day to day affairs but also in different festivities, wedding ceremonies and folklore dancing events. Genuinely, Pollera is a ruffled blouse worn off the shoulders. The skirt is on the waistline with gold buttons. The skirt also has ruffle, so that when she lifts it up, it looks like a peacock’s tail or a mantilla fan.

Hand-made Pollera is the favorite preference of the Panamian women - Image by athena_vina
Hand-made Pollera is the favorite preference of the Panamian women – Image by athena_vina

Traditionally, the Panama women also wear several golden chains and other ornaments as necessary items of La Pollera. Zaricillos (earrings) are usually gold or coral, and to complete the outfit, the female wears slippers which match the color of her pollera. There is tremendous variety of Pollera in Panama these days but traditionally Pollera is always liked in white color and made with fine Lenin.

Exotic head decorations by pretty Panama women wearing Pollera - Image  by whl.travel
Exotic head decorations by pretty Panama women wearing Pollera – Image by whl.travel

Panama women adorn their head and hair with floral decorations matching with Pollera. The hair is parted into two braids and tightly pulled back behind the ears. Such exquisite embellishment is known as ‘tembleques.’ Sometimes these shining enrichments are made with the ornaments of gold, silver, and pearls and originally of sea shells or coral.

Pollera de gala - Image by Ayaita
Pollera de gala – Image by Ayaita

It requires lots of labor, plenty of hard-work and phenomenal skills to make a Pollera and it might take several months to be stitched. Sometimes Irish linen is also preferred by the women and they apply magnificent stitching, complex knitting and appliqués to make their dress unique and prominent. The most lavish and expensive one is called “the pollera de Gala” which is considered as one of the most luxurious dresses in the World.

A horse-man in Panama wearing the traditional straw-hat - Image by Lon&Queta
A horse-man in Panama wearing the traditional straw-hat – Image by Lon&Queta

The traditional outfits for men in Panama include straw hats along with white cotton shirts and rousers. Both men and women participates in carnivals and traditional gatherings and dance as the women do a gentle sway and twirl their skirts, while the men hold their hats in their hands and dance behind the females. Traditional dress of Panama and the exotic Mola and La Pollera are unique and well-known in the whole of South and Latin America for their immense beauty and decorations.

For more interesting posts with the same subject on the Lovely Planet Website, please click the following links;

1-    Algerian Traditional Dress
2-    Traditional Dress Of Serbia
3-    Traditional Dress Of Kosovo
4-    Traditional Dress Of Libya
5-    Traditional Dress Of Morocco
6-    Traditional Dress Of Albania
7-    Traditional Dress Of Tunisia
8-    Traditional Dress Of Lebanon
9-    Traditional Dress Of Bosnia And Herzegovina
10-  Traditional Dress Of Azerbaijan
11-  Traditional Dress Of Turkmenistan
12-  Traditional Dress Of Kazakhstan
13-  Traditional Dress Of Kyrgyzstan
14-  Traditional Dress Of Uzbekistan
15-  Traditional Dress Of Tajikistan
16-  The Traditional Dress Of Laos
17-  The Traditional Dress Of Vietnam
18-  Traditional Dresses Of The World – 1
19-  Traditional Dress Of Jammu & Kashmir
20-  Ottoman Dresses From Turkey
21-  Colors Of Cholistan
22-  Cultural Dresses Of Balochistan
23-  Lehenga Choli Or Ghagra Choli
24-  Sari Or Saree : Traditional Dress Of Women In South Asia
25-  Ajrak , The Traditional Attire From Sindh , Pakistan
26-  The Traditional Tais Of East Timor
27-  Shalwar Kameez: The Popular Dress Of South Asia
28-  Churidar Pajama: The Favorite South Asian Attire
29-  Pakistani Bridal Dress
30-  Rilli, Sindhi Quilt Art
31-  Fantastic, Alluring Khussa Shoes
32-  Customs And Traditions Of Kalash Tribe
33-  Hanfu, The Classical Chinese Dress
34-  London Fashion Week
35-  Fashion Week Milan: The Glamorous Event Of Italy
36-  New York Fashion Week
37-  Paris Fashion Week
38- Traditional Dress Of Jordan
39- Traditional Dress Of Syria
40- Traditional Dress Of Afghanistan
41- Traditional Dress Of Palestine
42- Traditional Dress Of Oman
43-Traditional Dress Of Nigeria
44- Traditional Dress Of Hungary
45-Traditional Dress Of Ukraine
46- Malaysian Traditional Dress
47- Traditional Dress Of Kenya
48- Traditional Eastern Brides
49- Traditional Dress Of Bulgaria
50- Traditional dress of Uganda
51- Traditional Dress of Iceland
52- Traditional Dress of Croatia
53- traditional dress of Norway
54- Traditional dress of Finland
55- Traditional Dress of Philippines
56- Traditional dress of Denmark
57- Traditional dress of Belarus
58- Traditional Dress of Puerto Rico
59- Traditional Dress of Nicaragua: Marvelous and colorful
60 – Traditional Dress of Nepal: Whimsical but charming
61- Brilliant Colors of Dagestan: Really fanciful and imaginative
62- Kabuki: A classical and traditional Japanese theater
63- Boogie-woogie: A famous Swing Dance
64- Colors of Samba Dance from Brazil: So lively so amazing
65- Ho Jamalo: The favorite folk dance of Sindh
66- Odissi from the Eastern India: A historic ritual dance
67- Sattriya from Assam: A classical Indian dance
68- Fandango: A famous couple dance from Spain
69- Maypole from Europe: A fabulous circle folk dance
70- Cueca: The national dance of Chile
71- Traditional dress of Belgium: A charming European attire
72- Traditional dress of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
73- Colors of Kalash: 5 lovely images of beautiful Kalash girls
74- Traditional dress of Georgia: The fantastic Chokha
75- Traditional dress of Argentina: The warrior Gaucho costume
76- Traditional dress of Venezuela: Not complicated but decorated
77- Traditional dress of Latvia: Made with the Linen fabric
78- Traditional dress of Romania: So captivating and graceful
79- Traditional dress of Estonia: So classy and versatile
80- Traditional dress of Armenia: So colorful and diversified
81- Traditional dress of Angola: A symbol of the ethnic culture
82- Traditional dress of Austria: Dirndl, Lederhosen and Tracht
83-Traditional dress of Namibia: Far from the modernizations
84- Traditional dress of Zambia: Rare but unique in nature
85- Traditional dress of Slovakia: Kroje , decorated and cultural
86. Traditional dress of Qatar: Pure Arabian endowment
87. Traditional dress of Brazil: So bright and colorful in nature
88. Traditional dress of Colombia: So iconic in Latin America
89. Traditional dress of Chile: So artistic and cultural
90. Traditional dress of Mexico: Blend of indigenous and imported cultures


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.