You May Also Be Interested In:
Mola made by the Kuna Women of Panama
For sale is a beautifully detailed Mola with a multi-colored geometric Lobster design. This hand-stitched piece of indigenous art would look great framed and displayed on a wall. It measures 17.5 inches by 13 inches, and ships for free.
The Mola for sale here is just one of many beautiful designs that I have listed. All of my Molas were acquired on my recent trip to the San Blas Islands of Panama (see photos) . Many are similar and would make a nice set. Just click on my View Seller's Other Items link if you want to see additional Molas.
About the Central American Kuna Indians:
The Kuna Indians have a population of around 47,000 members. They migrated from the Darien region of Panama to the San Blas Islands on the Atlantic coast in the mid nineteenth century. In 1938, after a long struggle, the Comarca of San Blas (Kuna Yala) , a semi-autonomous territory, was recognized by the Panamanian government.
The Kuna Indians are a strongly-knit tribal society living on a chain of islands called San Blas Archipelago, on the Atlantic side of the Republic of Panama. Believed to be descendants of the Caribs, the Kuna Indians still live in much the same manner as their ancestors. The San Blas people have cleverly managed to retain their tribal identity and contentedly lead a moral balanced life, free from the complexities of modern, highly-organized societies.
The Kuna have a matriarchal society in which the line of inheritance passes through the women. A young man, after marriage, must live in his mother-in-law's house and work for several years under apprenticeship to his father-in-law. The daughters of the Kuna people are prized because they will eventually bring additional manpower into the family.
What are Molas?
Molas are works of art created by the women of the Central American Kuna tribe. They are made using an appliqui process referred to as "reverse appliqui". Several layers of cloth varying in color are loosely stitched together. Fine-tipped scissors are used to cut the top layers. The cut edges are folded back and stitched to the layer below. Mola means "blouse" and were originally part of the woman's dress -- now they are sold around the world and are collected by many.
What makes a good Mola?
Kuna women use several criteria to evaluate a molas quality:
Smooth, even, narrow lines;
A central design or primary motif that stands out from the background;
Symmetry: visual balance within the panel;
Stitching nearly invisible to the naked eye;
Number of fabric layers;
Intricate cutouts, such as curves, zigzags or tiny squares.
Molas are priced by quality. The more expensive molas reflect more complexity, outstanding craftswomanship, and fine design.