Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Leatherback Turtle

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Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Leatherback Turtle


Shellfish, fish, and turtles, as seen here, are mainstays of Guna diet and economy. The month of May is known as the "Moon of the Turtle" because that is when the giant leatherback turtles lay their eggs. This special time has been officially celebrated in the last decade with a Turtle Festival in which Guna chiefs, Smithsonian scientists, and members of the Rodolfo Chairi School (which runs a sea turtle protection program) all participate in helping the baby turtles safely make their way to sea. In earlier times, the Guna carefully managed turtle populations; today the outside world has encroached on their ocean resources and the Guna's own overpopulation problem has led to deadly water contamination and loss of many turtles.

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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