Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Panama Canal and Bridge of the Americas



Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Panama Canal and Bridge of the Americas


The dulemola at left celebrates the famed Panama Canal that joined Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, allowing ships and cargo to move much more efficiently around the planet. The canal actually rejoined the oceans that had long ago been one body of water, until the volcanoes in southern Central America connected to form a solid landmass, changing the global climate. The “Panama Effect” meant that cold water and winds circulated differently around the Atlantic, which became saltier, among many other phenomena. This isthmus also became a land bridge for animals from bears to llamas that migrated between North and South America.

In this blouse panel the ship on the blue waters is shown entering the Pacific end of the canal under a bridge, the Puente de las Américas, or Bridge of the Americas. The artist has added local seabirds and tropical foliage, but most interestingly fills in the available “sky” with the traditional spiral patterns of the “grandmother” dulemolaguna (earlier, or more fundamental geometric compositions hereherehere, and here). This creative composition encapsulates the wonderful layering of modern and traditional imagery that exists in Guna dulemolaguna.


Malvita (Guna)

Geographic Area

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




Early 21st century



Credit Line

Anonymous loan

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Michael McKelvey, 2017

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