Meet Wounaan weaver Dalia Negria

Introducing one of the talented weavers we work with, Dalia Negria. Dalia grew up in the small remote community of Sinai, Darien. She moved to the city with her husband, Trucman, when he began his studies at the university in Panama City.

Dalia’s aunt and teacher instilled in her a passion for knitting and weaving. In particular, she taught Dalia how to weave with shredded Chunga Palm, the colorful material stitched into baskets to create designs. She was one of the first weavers to work with Chunga Palm. For some years, she mostly used sewing thread in her weaving; she now uses shredded leaves of the Naguala Palm for the coil of the basket and dyed Chunga Palm leaves stripped as thin as thread for the colorful designs.

Master weavers often create their own colors to add depth and extend their palette, and at an early age, Dalia began creating new designs and dyes. She was the first weaver to use local Cocobolo wood (most often used by Wounaan men for ornamental carvings) for a dye, creating a new shade of black. She also created a red from Pucham, a leaf native to the Darien Rainforest that is also used to heal wounds.

Dalia is one of the famed Negria sisters, three siblings whose works are known and collected for their intricate designs. Her sister Miriam is also a master weaver; she has perfected the finest weaving techniques and specializes in Macaw baskets and other cultural designs. Her other sister, Christina, works in cultural designs, quetzals, butterflies, and scarlet flowers.

Dalia has taught workshops and seminars for weavers with Embera Wounaan government entities, and she also teaches through the church. Thanks to her creative influence, more than 400 Wounaan artisans currently make a living weaving with Chunga Palm. Dalia uses her earnings to pay for improvements to her home and other necessities and invests in her daughters’ education.