artisan assistance


The objective of Medo's artisan project it to empower local artisans to market their own goods for fair prices. This will include seminars on marketing, pricing, and English for artisans; in addition, Medo will act directly to help market artisan products.

Many families live by subsistence farming and have very little income. One of the only sources of income for many families is the production of artisania. These products represent the creative and artistic spirit of the Ngöbe-Bugle people, and include bags called chacaras, which are woven out of natural fibers; hats hand woven from palm fibers; dresses and shirts with intricate, colorful triangular appliqué designs; and beadwork, which include chaquiras, or netted necklaces that are 12 to 30 cm wide. The designs that are used in the artisan products are intricate and colorful, and often represent animals or the landscape of the Comarca. The most represented animal is the snake, and the colorful triangular motifs of the dresses and beadwork resemble the scaled skin and vibrant colors of the region's snakes.

These talented artists produce products of high quality; however, many artisans find it difficult to market their work, due to living in remote areas, lack of means to travel, lack of education about marketing and pricing, language barriers, and limited markets. Imparting knowledge to the artisans through seminars would greatly empower artisans to make a living income. Additionally, Medo's directly establishing markets facilitates the selling process.

Artisania does not represent merely a source of income. Because the majority of artisans are women, promotion of artisania directly empowers women. Additionally, Ngöbe art is a representation and celebration of the culture, and allows families to live traditionally and on their own land instead of being compelled to move out the Comarca and into cities, in search of employment.

Resources and Activities

Medo is currently working with a volunteer in the United States to form contacts with stores that sell traditional crafts. This enterprise is still under development, but has already resulted in the purchase of $150 worth of local products. Currently, Medo is working to establish a website for information about Ngobe art and culture.

The volunteer who works on this project will assist local artisan groups/ individuals in marketing their crafts.


created by anna zaniewski for medo 2007