Galeria Namu – Take home museum quality Costa Rican art at fair trade prices and support the artists and artisans from Costa Rica’s original 8 tribes
In my search for authentic art and handicrafts from Costa Rica I was quite impressed with my visit to Galeria Namu and my introduction to the owner of the store an ex-pat Irish woman named Aisling.
You must stop in Galeria Namu when you are in San Jose before you depart Costa Rica! Even if you don't buy anything, you will enjoy checking out the ornate Borucu masks and Wounnan carved tagua (from a single, large seed). It's a Fodor's Choice 5-Star location.
Though I hesitate to spoil the thrill of visiting the shop in person, you can browse some works online at http://galerianamu.com/
The gallery is a treasure trove of fair trade art and handicrafts collected by Aisling and her son from artists and artisans who belong to each of Costa Rica's original, indigenous peoples. Costa Rica recognizes 8 tribes who were present when the Spanish arrived and who are still represented in the country today: Chorotega, Maleku, Bribri, Cabécar, Ngobe-Buglé (Guyami), Borucu, Térraba, and Huetar. The shop also carries Wounnan baskets from Panama and Lenca pottery from Honduras.
The afternoon we stopped in Aisling was meeting with two members of the Borucu tribe who had brought a selection of ceremonial masks carved from balsa wood that had been used in this years Fiesta de los Diablos. Aisling had a documentary of the ceremony playing in the store to provide tourists information about the significance of the ceremony.
We purchased a decorative serving bowl hand-carved from surá wood found from the forest naturally fallen or reclaimed from disused fence posts or buildings. The piece is by folk artist Cristóbal Marroquin.
Galeria Namu is on 7th Avenue between 5th Street and 7th Street. There is a great stylish and modern place to grab a bite to eat and a beer nearby with a rooftop patio – Kalu it is on the corner of 7th street and 11th avenue.