Very special choker from the Embera Chami people. A high-quality piece with an intricate design that shows the usage of various beading techniques.
Embera Chami Bead Craft
One of the Embera Chami crafts is weaving with beads. They describe their work more as an ancestral thought than as an art. Mothers have taught daughters, generation after generation, the techniques, the meaning of each color, the signs, and the drawings. This way they created the cultural legacy through the art of weaving. The most appreciated piece is the Okama, a necklace with high symbolic content and exclusive feminine use. They also weave bracelets, earrings and other necklaces loaded with ancestral symbolism, and use them as amulets for protection, love, new projects, and joy, among others.
Okama & Otapas.
Okama (the path that runs the neck) is a necklace that gives distinction to the woman who carries it, telling her history and role in the community. The girls receive their first Okama with their first period. The Embera men wear necklaces traditionally known as Otapas. They wear them to nominate their role in their community. The Embera believe the beaded pieces hold healing and protection properties. They are created with symbols that have profound meaning to the communities.
The Embera Chami
The Embera are Colombia’s third-largest indigenous group with an estimated population of around 71,000. In Colombia, the Embera culture consists of 3 different groups: Chamí, Katío, and Siapidara. The differences between the Embera groups respond more to the areas where they reside.
Embera means “people” and chami means “mountains” in their traditional language. Their habitat extends across the coastal Pacific basin of the department of Chocó. They are one of the few indigenous communities in the country that continue to practice their cultural expressions and ancestral spirituality.
Before the colonization of their territories, this tribe presented a strong relationship with the earth. The land was the basis of the existence of the community. There was no conception of property or value of the land. The different groups claimed the usufruct of the natural resources for the survival of the whole communities. The collective character of the land united the value of belonging to a community with the work it takes to support it.
The Embera Chamí People’s close relationship with the land began to disintegrate with the beginning of the Spanish conquest. This led to the forced abandonment of the lands with which they had created that relationship. They were relocated to rainy jungle territories with a completely different climate, soil, and productivity from what they had always known. still, the Embera retain much of their own thought, oral tradition, craft tradition, and ritual celebration. Handcrafts are one of the main resources of survival for the Embera.
The Embera retain much of their own thought, oral tradition, craft tradition, and ritual celebration. Handcrafts are one of the main resources of survival for the Embera. They are known for their unique beading skills and knowledge, passed from generation to generation. The Embera paint a picture with miniature glass-beads that reflect their ancestral dreamings strongly connected to the earth, their mother. Their beadworks contain unique symbolism that talks about their natural environment, social codes, and spiritual connections.