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Kuna Mola Panels - Panama

Molas (mor) are colorful appliqué panels completely hand crafted by the Kuna (Tule) people of Panama’s San Blas Islands (Kuna Yala). The technique of appliqué consists of cutting fabric in an intricate, decorative design and hand stitching it on top of another piece of cloth. Traditionally, molas are worn on the front and back of women’s blouses; therefore they have all been previously used. The production of molas didn’t begin until the 1800's when machine manufactured fabric became obtainable through trade. Original molas were comprised of only 2 colors (mor gwinagwad) and a geometric design using broad lines. Overtime, with greater exposure to and influence from outside cultures, mola colors and designs have become more complex depicting flowers, animals, and various figures. The mola is evaluated based on its design and color, fineness of stitching, the number of layers it is comprised of, and overall workmanship.