TITLE: Emberá Coatimundi Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Panama
SUBREGION: Darién
ETHNICITY: Emberá
DESCRIPTION: Coatimundi Dance Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Healing; Purification
AGE: 2009
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed palm fibers
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Emberá people belong to the Chocó ethnic group along with the Wounaan people inhabit parts of southern Panama and northern Colombia.  They weave remarkable animal spirit masks from the dyed fibers of the black chunga plant (black palm, Astrocaryum standleyanum). Shamans (jaibaná) use these masks in healing and village purification rituals, during which they will be hung from the house posts or worn.

This mask represents an animal common in Central and South America, the coatimundi (Nasua narica). The coati is a social omnivore, adept at climbing trees and foraging for food with a powerful sense of smell.  Unlike its relative, the North American raccoon, the coati is diurnal.