Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Madonna and Child

Malvita and Two Other Guna Women.jpg


Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Madonna and Child


This Guna blouse panel takes on a Christian subject: the Madonna and Child. She is identified by her cross necklace, which is embroidered like her intricate veil and the patterns on her clothes. The use of embroidery began in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The bright pink chosen by the artist for the figures’ skin tone further suggests a reference to the people who brought Christianity to the Americas. However, the Madonna's long black hair is ambiguous; in the biblical tradition women were not to cut their long black hair. Young Guna women wear their jet black hair long; mature women cut theirs short with bangs.

Nestled amongst oversized tropical flowers and tall plants, the scene has been reset in a truly Central American context. This composition also has some Western touches, such as the way in which the flower on the left seems to overlap the border. Illusionistic elements, even the way that the two arms of the Madonna overlap, are basically foreign to the indigenous aesthetic but have entered the Guna artistic vocabulary through exposure to other art styles.

Geographic Area

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




Late 20th century



Credit Line

Anonymous loan

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Michael McKelvey, 2017

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