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In Dulegaya, the Kuna’s native language, “mola” means “shirt” or “clothing”. The mola originated with the tradition of Kuna women painting their bodies with geometric designs, using available natural colors; in later years these same designs were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panamá. Each mola consists of two to seven layers of cotton cloth in the dominant colors of red, black, and orange. Pieces of the top layers are cut out, folded back, and hand-stitched down to expose the underlying colors. The process of cutting away the fabric is sometimes described as “reverse appliqué,” since layers of cloth are removed rather than stitched to the surface. Embroidery stitches of colorful thread are sometimes added to the molas. The mola, forms part of the traditional outfit of a Kuna woman in Panama. Two mola panels belong together as front and back panels in a blouse. Nowadays they are also sold to collectors and framed and exhibited.

Kuna Indian Mola Textile

  • Origin: Panama

    Material: Cotton

    Size: 19" W x 14" L 

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