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Memorias: Revista Digital de Historia y Arqueología desde el Caribe

On-line version ISSN 1794-8886


PAYNE IGLESIAS, Elizet. The exploitation of the snail dye and the indigenous struggle to preserve it in the Pacific of Costa Rica (16 th to 19 th centuries). memorias [online]. 2017, n.33, pp.142-167. ISSN 1794-8886.

This paper aims to analyze the extraction process of the "tinte de caracol" (snail dye) in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, in order to explain the economic, social and environmental effects this activity generated on the societies involved in its exploitation and commercialization. In addition, it also explores the indigenous peoples' practices for extracting the dye from the snail to determine the degree of exploitation to which the snail was subjected and the social use given to the garments dyed with this material. The paper will also highlight the indigenous tradition of limited and sustainable use, unlike the over-exploitation implemented by the Spaniards (and later by ladinos and criollos) who tried to control the commercialization of the dye in the post-independence era. This research will try to link the biological nature the Plicopurpura columellaris, -its dye- with its economic and social use in colonial and republican Costa Rica.

Keywords : Snail Dye; Plicopurpura columellaris; indigenous; communities; Pacific; Boruca Indians; Nicoya; Costa Rica.

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