An old high school friend, John, contacted me about making some bags to put ‘molas’ on for his wife. Not one to turn down a job, but rather loving a challenge, I said sure. So he sent them to me and here is the result.
History of the Mola
The molas are made by Kuna Indians who live on the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. They are the only native people of the area (Panama) who have not been assimilated into other cultures. Kuna women make the molas in between other community duties. Some women make more money than their men by selling molas to tourists. To make a mola, they cut out animal (often birds or fish) shapes from commercial cloth, and then sew the shapes onto panels of other cloth using applique and reverse applique methods. Finer details are embroidered to finish the molas. One mola can take weeks to make. The Kuna women sew molas into blouses which are daily worn for them. The men tend to wear western style clothes instead of mola-inspired clothing. Molas are also used by the Kunas as wall coverings. Since there are less than 50,000 Kuna Indians and since only women make them, molas are truly a unique art form.