Thursday, November 17, 2011
When we first moved to Panama I became aware of la pollera sitting in a photo studio with my family waiting to have our pictures taken for immigration documents. I thought it rather curious that teenage girls and newlyweds would have their portraits taken in traditional costumes. I said to my daughter, "it must be a thing here." I had no idea. A couple of weeks later, when I was looking at the list of school supplies, there between the crayons and rulers was pollera (for girls and straw hat for boys).
The Panamanian elementary curriculum includes a weekly folklore class. In the lower grades they learn the dances and in the higher grades they study the stories and costumes as well as dance. By now we've been through a couple of sizes of pollera and I've had the opportunity, in the last four years, to familiarize myself with the local traditions. But I am far from an expert, and when my daughter joined the folklore ensemble at school I was a little intimidated. And when I saw the list for her costume I was frankly terrified.
Tonight's the big, anual performance and we (miraculously) have everything on the list. We also have a friend from my husband's office coming to help me dress her (it's complicated--especially the hair). My daughter will be wearing la pollera montuna ocueña. And I'm pretty sure I couldn't be prouder.
For more information about Panama's traditional pollera check out this site:
The Pollera of Panama