Yellow-tipped Heliconia, Wounaan Basket


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Yellow tipped red heliconia flowers grow up the sides from a red circle at the base. The top is lined with a row of diamonds lined in a complimentary yellow.

7″ W x 5″ H, constructed by Wounaan master weaver Elida Mejia.

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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
  • 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 to organise the return.


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Pictorial motif Rainforest Baskets are called natura due to the fact that they are inspired by their natural surroundings. In fact, these designs often include local flowers, trees, birds, ocelots, jaguars, iguanas and other flora and fauna native to the Darién rainforest.

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.

About Argelida Donisabe Ismare

Argelida Donisabe is in indigenous Wounaan weaver from Panama. She lives in Maje, a village in the Darien Rainforest, and also lives part time in a small community on the outskirts of Panama City where many other Wounaan have created a village. Argelida has been weaving for over 35 years.

Argelida started weaving after visiting a friend who was a weaver, she thought they were beautiful and decided to learn how to weave from her friend. Since learning she has taught her three sisters to also weave baskets. Women in the community often are encouraged to learn to weave by family members, or other relatives or friends.

While many weavers like to create in a group setting, Argelida prefers to work alone, and remarks on how it helps her concentrate on her weaving. She purchases the materials and dyes separately, then dyes her shredded palms herself. Many weavers will collect and prepare the materials themselves, in a larger group setting, but Argelida prefers her solitude. In the beginning she concentrated on geometric designs, as many weavers do, then developed her signature grasshopper floral designs.  She is the only weaver we know of with the grasshopper design in her florals, and says she wants buyers to feel happy when they see her baskets.

The money she makes helps to support her family and allows the two households with access to higher education.

Our Mission

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

Traditional & Modern Motifs

Inspired by history and life in the rainforest

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