Carved Tagua Nuts carved tagua seed fish

Tagua seed, also called tagua nut and vegetable ivory, are one of the blessings of the natural environment in the indigenous Wounaan lands in Panama. They are the seeds of a special palm tree, harvested from the base of the tree. When the tagua seeds are freshly harvested, they are large and swollen with water. They can be eaten by humans and are an important source of food for many jungle animals. The seeds are harvested without by hand sustainably in the wild. The plant is not harmed in any way.

Tagua nuts that will be used for carvings are set aside to dry over a period of months until they become very very hard. Dried tagua seeds have a consistency that is almost exactly like vegetable ivory. In fact, the popularization of tagua nuts for carvings instead of ivory has helped in the preservation of elephants by providing a sustainable substitute to ivory from elephant tusks.

The Wounaan and Embera people of Panama have carved tagua seeds for thousands of years. It is an art that is handed down from father to son. The subjects of the carvings are most often culturally symbolic, such as carvings of the animals that are native to the Panamanian rainforests. At Carpio Arte, our family of artisans hike into our native mountains to hand collect the tagua seeds by hand ourselves. After the seeds have dried, we begin our work, drawing our inspiration from the natural shape of the seed and whatever animal or image is most on our mind.

All our work is completely by hand and made by us. We offer you delicate original tagua seed carvings. Each one of them is an original work of art. To create the feelings of the jungle and the vibrant plants and animals that we sculpt, we often paint our finished carvings with very fine detailing in bright colors. If a customer prefers, we can also leave them natural and finish them with a high polish.

Our tagua seed carvings range in price from about $25 to $120, depending on size and detail.

tagua nut hummingbird
raw tagua nut
carved tagua seed