Elisas Keys, Wounaan Basket



Thin white interlocking Greek keys with white lines on a black background. Above the keys are boxes outlined and filled in again. A traditional -looking piece.

5″ W x 5″ H, weeks in construction by Wounaan weaver Elisa Membache.

Free US shipping on all orders.

In Wounmeu, the language of the Wounaan, there is a special name for fine traditional coil-construction palm-fiber baskets — hösig di. Expert weavers stitch silk-fine strands of the black palm they call chunga, brilliantly or subtly colored with vegetal and organic dyes, over coils of naguala palm.

The newest, softest green palm fronds are shredded by hand, extracting the internal fibers as thin as thread. After drying in the sun, these fibers are dyed in mixtures created using roots, berries and seed pods, all-naturally sourced vegetal colors.

Chunga is so closely linked to Wounaan tradition and daily life that, when it comes to the creation of Hösig Di (the Wounmeu term for their fine baskets), each basket is believed to begin with an inherent spiritual quality. Further to this point, the women who weave them are often called “spirit weavers”. Learn more about how Rainforest Baskets art is created.

Stitched over many months and years from natural palm fibers and organic dyes, your handmade woven art should be displayed proudly, away from any windows and skylights. The ultra-violet rays of direct sun and strong light can cause the saturated natural dyes in textile and fiber art to fade, and can even damage the fibers themselves.

If your woven art resides with you in the desert or other dry environments, you may feel better occasionally misting it (as often done to wicker or rattan) inside with distilled or non-chlorinated tap water. Using a paper towel, gently pat any excess moisture from the interior.

We offer free shipping within the continental United States.

  • For addresses in the US, tracked postage takes 2-7 business days.
  • International shipping is available to all destinations. You can either 1) complete your purchase online and we will send you a list of shipping options and prices. Once the shipping is paid we will send the objects and tracking information. Or 2) send an inquiry through email or product page and we will send your approximate shipping options based on your delivery address.
  • Rainforest Baskets is not responsible for customs duties or taxes on international shipments, nor is it responsible for delays associated with the import process.
  • We will be happy to offer a full refund (excluding shipping) on items returned within 7 days of receipt of delivery.
  • Returned items must be in original condition and undamaged, and purchased directly from RainforestBaskets.com.
  • Proof of purchase is required.
  • For defective, damaged or incorrect items, please notify us within five days of delivery in order to receive a refund/exchange.
  • Email us at info@rainforestbaskets.com to organise the return.



Geometric motif Rainforest Baskets draw their inspiration from multiple sources, including pre-Colombian textiles, ceramics and rock art. Baskets woven with these designs are often referred to as cultural, due to the fact that a large part of their inspiration stems from body paintings and patterns on spiritual paraphernalia used by village shamans. Learn more about motif and design.

Masterful coil construction Wounaan baskets are created using thin shreds of Chunga palm fibers dyed into various colors, coiled over thicker Naguala palm. Shredded palm fronds, dried in the sun, readily absorb the vegetal dyes created out of local resources. Roots, berries and river silt are just some of the items that are used to boil, bury, and simmer palm fronds in to take on vibrant colors.

Vegetal Dye Sources

Lianas Vine

A woody climbing plant that hangs from trees, especially in tropical rainforests. It is used to make both a pink color and a cream color, depending on which part of the vine that is used.


Saffron makes many colors, including a rich green. Also used to make green are soliman (a seed-like potatoe) and earth.

Cocobolo Wood

Cocobolo is a prized rosewood, used for decorative carvings, knife handles and more. Many carvers leave behind wood shavings that are used as a chocolate colored dye.

Trumpet Vine

Flowers are used to create brilliant colors depending on the time in bloom. Vibrant red and colorful hues or rich, darker hues depending on the lifecycle of the plant.

We work with many weavers, apx 50-75 Wounaan and a dozen Embera weavers. Here we spotlight some of the artists.

Mickeila Teucama, from Maje village

Mickeila Teucama was born in 1992 in a small village in the Darien of Panama. She’s a Wounaan weaver who learned her craft from her mother, who is also a weaver.

Mickeila, also spelled Mitkela or Mitkeila, was educated through the 6th grade. This is typical in the Wounaan villages, most of which have state-mandated education through the 6th grade, and the state supplies teachers, classrooms, and some supplies. In the villages no further education is offered unless students move to the larger cities. Many of the higher earning weavers have sent their children to live with family in the city and support their child’s education with their weaving income.

She started weaving baskets when she was 17 yrs old, and currently she has 4 children. Having many children is prized in the Wounaan community. Mitkelia’s favorite design is geometric motifs, and she works on her weavings for about 6 hours each day, often while the children are at school and her husband is working.

All of her materials are gathered, shredded, and dyed by her alone – some weavers purchase or trade for prepared materials, but she likes to do this by herself. Mitkeila also prefers living in the villages surrounded by nature and the rainforest. While some Wounaan leave the villages to move to the city, she enjoys staying with her extended family and 7 siblings in the Darien rainforest.


At Rainforest Baskets our very small team brings beautiful handmade woven art to your space, and empowers indigenous weavers to create a better future for themselves and their families.

Wounaan Master Weavers

Passing down traditions through generations

Months & Years to Create

View upcoming pieces in construction

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