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The Tembleques

[Pigtail covers]

Pigtail covers







[Ear covers]

Ear covers



[Fillings (center) and jazmines (right and left)]

Fillings (center) and jazmines (right and left)


Tamara Ponce

Tembleques is the name of the non-jewerly ornaments that are place in the head of the woman who wears a pollera.

They are made of different materials such as wire, imitation pearls, fantasy stones and crystals, fish scales, and sometimes real pearls and gold. The fish scale ones are very rare today and have an interesting history: Up to World War II, most tembleques were made with fantasy materials produced in Germany. So, when the war began, Panamanian businessmen could not conduct trade with German companies, so our tembleque makers had to find another material for making them. They started using fish scales, then.

The tembleques vary in their shapes and purposes. Most resemble flowers because the actually represent the flowers that women from centuries ago wore in their hair. However, some tembleques are modeled on animals. Many tembleques bear the name of flowers and others are named according to their purpose, such as pigtail covers and ear covers.

In total, a properly dressed empollerada wears from 12 to 15 pairs of tembleques. They must be white if the woman wears a deluxe pollera. However, if the pollera worn is of the working variety, the tembleques can be either white or multicolored.

Hopefully, we have given the reader a primer on this very important accesory of the pollera: The tembleque. Next time you see a pollera, you will be able to better appreciate this delicate peace of Panamanian art.

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