Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Girl’s Blouse with Geometric Patterns



Girl’s Blouse with Geometric Patterns


A tiny Guna girl wore this blouse with its vivid front and back dulemola panels of orange and blue. The geometric patterns and two colors make these dulemolaguna traditional, the type called “grandmother” to show it is an older idea (versus those with figures and scenes). Despite the conservative nature of the patterns, the blouse, with its gathered sleeves and hem ruffle, is clearly European in form. Blouses were imposed on the Guna by missionaries’ ideas of female modesty and so there was no precedent in Guna clothing, except the untailored wrap skirt still worn with the new top.

The new demands of more tailored clothing have even affected the shape of the dulemola: the usually square upper corners have been cut on the diagonal to make a more fitted garment. On the back there is a short zipper, an entirely Western element. Melding the past and the present, dulemolaguna document the overlapping layers of culture in cloth.

Geographic Area

Central America, Guna Yala (San Blas Islands/North Coast of Panamá)




Late 20th century



Credit Line

Anonymous gift

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Bruce M. White, 2012

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