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Transcript of Molas
the Kuna Indians
Molas are made in Panama by the Kuna Indians
They have a native language, but mostly speak Spanish, now.
This lady is framing some molas for someone who collects them.
The traditional costume of a Kuna woman consists of a patterned blue cotton wrapped skirt,
red and yellow headscarf, arm and leg beads, gold nose rings and earrings
and the many layered and finely sewn mola panel blouse.
Geometric molas are the most traditional,. They developed from ancient body painting designs.
Kuna woman sewing a mola Many hours of careful sewing are required to create a fine mola. The ability to make an outstanding mola is a source of status among Kuna women.
The quality of a mola is determined by such factors as
number of layers
fineness of stitching
evenness and width of cutouts
addition of details such as zigzag borders, lattice-work or embroidery
general artistic merit of the design and color combination.
When Kuna women tire of a particular blouse, they disassemble it and sell the molas to collectors.
Since mola panels have been worn as part of the traditional dress of a Kuna woman they often show signs of wear such as fading and stitch marks along the edges of the panels. These"imperfections" indicate that the mola is authentic and not made solely to be sold to tourists.
Molas are often sold in pairs, the pair consisting of the back and front panels of a blouse. The two molas are usually two variations on a theme. Matched molas complement each other and should be displayed or used together for the greatest impact.
Mola panels have many uses. They can be framed as art or made into pillows, place mats or wall hangings. Some people even make them into bedspreads or incorporate them into quilting projects.
The mola blouse is an important symbol of Kuna culture. The Kuna rebellion that led to the legal recognition of Kuna Yala as a semi-autonomous territory by the government of Panama was initiated when the government tried to prevent Kuna women from wearing their traditional mola costume.