Monday, November 12, 2012

Representando: Pollera

The dictionary defines "pollera" as a long, full skirt with many gathers. We commonly use "pollera" to mean any full skirt. As history and paintings clearly demonstrate, this style of skirt has been found in the women's dress of Europe since time immemorial. 

By the law of synthesis found among common people, the name for the skirt was applied gradually to the entire dress; there is nothing new, difficult, or novel about this process. None of the legends concerning the origin of the name "pollera" have any concrete base.

All the suppositions and fantasies which pass freely from one person to another have no documented foundation. Furthermore, the dates given by some writers for the origin of the name, around 1900, are completely false; the name "pollera" was used for the typical dress in Panama as early as 1846.

As for the pollera montuna or the dress for daily use, a cotton skirt printed in floral design is commonly used in tropical climates and during summer seasons in colder regions. We should think of the skirts from Andalucia, but not of the close-fitting ruffled skirt of the flamenco dancers, nor the traditional cloth of the mountain regions - rather of the skirt of the common women in any city, who used a pollera montuna. In the Museo del Pueblo Espanol there is a woman's dress of Cordoba, made of percale with a small printed pattern, very full and with a ruffle, which cannot be differentiated from the pollera montuna of Panama. The complicated hair style which uses gold combs makes us think of the hair styles from Valencia and Salamanca where they do not use combs but large, richly decorated pins. Naturally the hair style and hair ornaments found in Panama would not be an imitation, but with the passage of time they would change and acquire a character different from their Spanish predecessors."

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