Ancestral Wisdom Women, The Backbone

Emberā-Chamí women wearing traditional adornments

Today, women still occupy an important role in their communities. Not only are they the ones responsible for the preservation of their people, they are also the ones who are believed to hold the wisdom, knowledge and values, necessary for the flourishing of their societies.

As with pre-Hispanic societies, body adornments indicate the special place occupied by women. For example, Emberā-Chamí women are the only ones who wear the Okama, a type of highly symbolical round beaded necklace that increases in size as the woman ages and gains wisdom. Similarly, only the woman paints her face with symbols that denote her place as a wise member of her society.