Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Spiral Patterns (Biru-birut)



Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Spiral Patterns (Biru-birut)


This contemporary dulemola features multiple small pieces of cloth sandwiched between the black top cloth and the orange base one, maximizing the number of colors of the twenty-eight spiral patterns. They are subtly subdivided by the clever way the artist cut through to the orange base cloth to outline two sets of seven motifs.

The various colors are balanced in the vibrant composition, yet without any particular regular alternation. In addition to various shades of hues like yellow and green, there is only one white spiral, a surprising touch (much like the idea of q’iwa for the ancient Andean textiles). These design choices bespeak the hands and “eye” of a skilled artist.

Spirals are called biru-birut in the Guna language. Even the doubled word evokes the spinning motion of a line that turns in on itself, one could argue. Although deeply traditional as part of “grandmother” geometric dulemolaguna, they are also integrated into contemporary examples, such as the sky in the Panama Canal piece.


Eufrasina Avila (Panamanian)


Eufrasina Ávila (Guna)

Geographic Area

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




Ca. 2015



Credit Line

Anonymous loan

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Michael McKelvey, 2017

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