Molas are made by the Kuna women from the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. The geometric designs originated with body painting, then later the patterns were woven in cotton. About 150 years ago, the designs started being sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panama.
The Kuna women hand-sew mola panels for their blouses, using the technique of reverse appliqué. Here are some molas from my mother’s collection, which are more pictorial than some. The rooster holding an umbrella under his wing is quite an image! I like the way each picture is built up with lines of color, using layer upon layer of contrasting cloth, to make such dynamic works of art.