Inspiration: Molas

detail of fish mola

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.

Rabbit and Rooster with Umbrella Mola

detail of rooster with umbrella Mola

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.  

Detail of Rabbit Mola

Fish Mola

Detail of Fish Mola

Detail of Fish Mola

6 thoughts on “Inspiration: Molas

  1. Wow…the inspiration certainly is evident in your work. I am not that familiar with this art form known as “Molas” but love the fauna being created in such a colorful and creative way. Bravo again to Salley and her ability to inspire and inform each and every one of us. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Amazing artistry! I love seeing art from other cultures. I sponsor a child in Guatemala so my children and I have researched this area of the world and are always delighted with the bright colors and vivid patterns in their clothing and art.

  3. Loved seeing this needlework….wonderful color and detail…imagine the hours it must take to make one of these pieces!!!!! Thank you, Salley.

  4. I’m so happy to see something that comes from my country in your blog (Molas come from Colombia and Panama). I don’t know if you know but their geometrical language was meant to passover the knowledge of how to get into paradise.
    I really love your work, congratulations!

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