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The tagua nut is the endosperm of a seed that come from the palm species Phytelephas aequatorialis. The palm tree that produces the tagua nut grows naturally in the rain forests of South America where it is a sustainable and renewable resource.

Tagua is also known as “vegetable ivory” for it’s similarities to animal ivory in texture, color, and aging processes. Like animal ivory, white tagua turns a warm, antiqued cream color as it ages.

The dark brown exterior of the tagua nut is polished to give it a beautiful natural shine. It can also be gently sanded and polished to produce a marbled pattern just below the surface. Sanding beyond the marble reveals the white core of the nut. This white tagua can then be fried in oil, resulting in a deeply caramel-colored tagua.


Sustainable Resources

Pro Pueblo offers hundreds of high quality products including home decoration, organizing accessories and jewelry made out of tagua, bamboo, and other natural materials.

Our products are all handcrafted from natural materials while preserving the original colours of the tagua, ceramic, bamboo, balsa and various other woods. Many products are made out of fibers such as abaca, banana husk, sisal, and toquilla, the material used for making Panama hats, which originally come from Ecuador. Regional stones such as pumice and sandstone are used to make candleholders and other items.


The Process


The locals regularly make the trek into the damp forests to harvest the tagua nuts. After harvesting, the nuts undergo an eight to twelve week drying process. The tagua is versatile and can be processed in various ways depending on the desired color and design of the finished product.

The dark brown skin of the tagua is lightly sanded and carefully polished for the chocolate or coffee bean look. Further sanding and polishing will lead to areas of the seed becoming creamy white, while in other parts the deeper brown skin is maintained, thus resulting in a lovely veined design.

The pure creamy white seed is obtained by sanding down and polishing all of the brown skin to be used by most artisans to craft the tiny tagua sculptures. Depending on the desired colour, the white tagua can be literally fried in oil, resulting in a rich caramel-like appearance.

Varying qualities of products are available. The craftspeople working with Pro Pueblo have a fine reputation for crafting varied and exquisite tagua figurines, from leatherback turtles to white-tipped sicklebill hummingbirds. Furthermore they craft jewelry, tiny sculptures, games such as chess and dominoes as well as home decoration products.


The Nut: The tagua nut has a triangular form, measures between 2-4 cm in diameter and between 2-6 cm in length (the specific weight is 1.3 Kg./ Lt).

It has a brown skin, is finely grained and less porous than animal ivory. It usually has a small void in the center and a small hole leading to the void from the outer skin.


The Palms: The Phytelephas palms grow in the lush lowlands of Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama, and are known under names such as Corozo, Mococha, and Anta.

The name of the Phytelphas palm is derived from the Greek words phyton meaning plant, and elephas meaning elephant; a perfect parent to the nut known as "Vegetable Ivory".



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