Molas from the San Blas Islands (Panama)

The Kuna (Guna) Indians are an indigenous people who live on small coral islands in Guna Yala, the San Blas Archipelago along the Atlantic coast of Panama and Columbia.  Most of the islands are covered with palm trees and fine, white sand.  Kuna women have achieved a worldwide reputation for outstanding textile artistry. Mola in the Kuna language refers to any piece of cloth or garment, but molas have come to be known as the panels of cloth that make up the front and back of a Kuna woman's brightly colored blouse.

Photo by Anita Seifert

Mola Art began approximately two hundred years ago when fabrics became more widely available from colonizers and they are inspired by the traditional body painting of the Kuna. The tradtiona designs represent tribal culture, mythology, native animals and plants.
A traditional mola is made by using the technique of Reverse Applique on several layers of cotton fabric. Molas are made only by hand.  An authentic mola takes two weeks to six months to make.



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