What Are Tembleques?
What are tembleques? Tembleques are tremblers; shaky things that go in your hair.....and part of the National Dress of Panama, the Pollera. They can be made of glass beads, gold beads, silver beads, pearls, and FISH SCALES. Yes, fish scales. Have you ever come across some beautiful fish scales on the beach? They are usually irridescent, and will catch your eye on the sand among the broken shells on the beach. There are many here on the Panama City, Florida, beaches; you just have to realize they are not parts of shells but actual fish scales that have washed up on shore. They sure looked lovely on those shiny fish you caught on the fishing reel, and that you threw out while cleaning it, but when fish pass away naturally, they do wash up on shore. The ones I have seen here on the beach are greyish and irredescent. Now, why on earth would anyone want to use fish scales in their hair, and in a National Dress? Well, to understand it you would have to go back to when the Pollera (Panama's National Dress) was created. Back in the colonial days, women would fashion jewelry with anything they could find. Pearls, gold, beads, pretty irridescent fish scales....yep. They would take them and bleach them out, and then dye them in different colors to form the petals of a flower, for instance, or the wings of a butterfly. Flowers and butterflies made with these fish scales are very beautiful because the fish scales never lose their irridescence, and they are very sturdy. They are mounted on wire, and then wrapped onto hair clips or "peinettas," or combs, and then placed into the hair. The effect is very beautiful. Back in the colonial days, materials were more pure, and they were the real thing. Gold was the real thing, pearls and beads were the real thing, not plastic immitations like we have now-a-days (They didn't even know what plastic was). They wouldn't even dream of using an inferior metal! The Pollera dress, with all its gold embellishments (there are numerous necklaces and earrings that are part of the Pollera dress that I won't go into here because that would be a different hub), would be handed down through generations of women as part of the family wealth.
The whole purpose of the tembleques is for them to shake and irridesce on the head while the dancer is dancing the different typical dances in the Pollera costume; of course, ultimately, to look pretty and to attract the opposite sex. It really is a pretty sight to behold. But you'd have to take a trip to Panama, Central America to check them out, unless you live in the Ft. Walton Beach/Destin area (this area) or another area that could have a Latin Festival and Panamanian Pollera dancers. Yearly, there is a Latin Festival held in the large Destin Convention Center in the middle of Highway 98, and this year they had some Panamanian Dancers in all their garb (including the tembleques) dancing some dances and displaying what they had to display. I was there and I danced along with them. It was so much fun!