The Use and Cultural Significance of the Pita Plant (Aechmea magdalenae) among Ngöbe Women of Chalite, Panama

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The Use and Cultural Significance of the PitaPlant (Aechmea magdalenae)among Ngöbe Women of Chalite, Panama. The pita plant-Aechmea magdalenae (André) André ex Baker-has been widely used throughout Ngöbe communities in Panama as a source of fiber for hammocks, baskets (kra), nets, thread, rope, and other fibers and cloth. As Ngöbe society becomes more integrated in regional and national society, the transformation of the pita plant to kra by the women of Chalite (Panama) has changed. Modern materials such as commercial dyes and synthetic threads are now used as substitutes for the pita fiber. As women specialize in tasks that are often linked to economic changes in Chalite, some women have specialized in kra production or even subsets of production while others have discontinued the practice and rely on other women for kiga or kra. Limited production of kra for the tourist trade has been unsuccessful as inadequate markets exist. © 2011 The New York Botanical Garden.

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Economic Botany