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The Ngäbe–Buglé are a union of two indigenous peoples of western Panama, the Guaymí (Ngäbe) and the Bokota (Buglé). They live in the marshes and jungles of Bocas del Toro and the Atlantic coast of Veraguas; the highlands of Bocas del Toro, Chiriquí Province, and Veraguas; and on the arid plains of eastern Chiriquí and Veraguas. Since 1997 the Ngabe-Buglé have partial autonomy over their collective lands.
The Ngäbe–Buglé Comarca was established on March 7, 1997 with Law 10. Some of the most important villages in the Comarca are: Culantro, Cascabel, Mununi, Piedra Roja, and Rio Luis.
According to the national census in 2000, there are a total of 110,080 Ngäbe and Buglé in Panama, constituting 63.6% of the national Indigenous population. Most of these are Guaymí.
Women wear long gowns called naguas decorated with symmetric bands of reverse appliqué colorful wedges, while in the lowlands and islands of Bocas del Toro women prefer skirts and simple shirts. Traditionally, men wear shirts with sewn-on geometric designs and bright-colored handmade pants, though today most men wear some variation of western dress. Both sexes traditionally wear straw hats made of junco or cogollo and kra (chácaras), simple or ornate shoulder bags made of natural fibers, cotton, or nylon. During the balsería ceremony, where far-flung villages come together to play a sport with balsawood logs, men will dress themselves in naguas or pants with geometric designs, wear animal skins on their back, put on hats with exotic bird feathers, and paint their faces with geometric shapes, usually in black, white and red. Chaquiras, bead necklaces depicting geometric designs and lines in bold colors, are one of their most famous accessories.
They live in huts, usually near rivers. The Ngäbe–Buglé fish, hunt and also raise dogs, cattle, chickens and pigs. Traditionally, the Ngäbe–Buglé punish adultery severely and celebrate ceremonies like the aguito, chicherias and clarias (ceremony).
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