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The Totuma


[This is a small totuma. It can be used as a drinking glass.]

This is a small totuma. It can be used as a drinking glass.


[A bigger totuma usually serves as a table dish.]

A bigger totuma usually serves as a table dish.


[The Embera Indians use totumas for mixing albahaca grass with water. The resulting liquid is used for washing their hands after a meal.]

The Embera Indians use totumas for mixing albahaca grass with water. The resulting liquid is used for washing their hands after a meal.


[The Guacho en Totuma Festival is a celebration where all meals are served in hand-painted totumas.]

The Guacho en Totuma Festival is a celebration where all meals are served in hand-painted totumas.


[Spices and powdered food items, such as salt, are sometimes stored in totumas.]

Spices and powdered food items, such as salt, are sometimes stored in totumas.


By:

Marino Jaén Espinosa
2010-08-23

A totuma is a vessel made of the fruit know as calabazo, which grows from the Crescentia cujete tree, common all over Central and Northern South America. In order to made the totuma, the calabazo is cut open, the pulp is extracted and the calabazo is exposed to the sun in order to dry.

This type of vessel has been used by the native population of the America for centuries. Now, they are still used in Panama's countryside, serving as drinking glasses, table dishes and recipients for carrying water.

Other uses include their painting and decoration as handicrafts, and their use for bathing in places where there is no running water.

Today, the totumas have been replaced by plastic containers. However, they remain a common sight at many of our grandmother houses down at the Interior.


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