Kuna Molas

The Kuna people of Panama and Columbia have become famous for the women’s quilting and embroidery arts tradition known as molas. These decorative panels, which are stitched onto the front and back of a blouse, are the center-pieces of Kuna feminine attire which Kuna women still wear and treasure today. The designs of the molas feature either geometric patterns – an older aesthetic – or they are representational images, depicting almost everything and anything in the Kuna people’s world. Such designs range from highly symbolic scenes from their rich cosmology and ceremonial cycles, to everyday objects, such as lamps and canoe oars. Occasionally, designs on the molas are studies of pop-imagery such as cereal box designs, or political posters. It has been claimed that the mola, a highly-prized, collectable indigenous art, has its origins in the repertoire of the much older Kuna body painting forms.

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