Mola Textiles of San Blas Island, Panama

Molas are a style of reverse applique textile done by the indigenous Guna people of Panama. Layers of fabric are stitched together by hand and then portions of the design are snipped away with sharp scissors, revealing a contrasting color of fabric. Then each part of the design is turned under and sewn with tiny, nearly invisible stitches. These take many, many hours to create, as one can imagine. The Guna people wear clothing decorated with molas as their everyday clothing. The designs often have spiritual meanings, and may stem from tattoo markings that were common in pre-colonization times. The donor of this collection wishes to remain anonymous, but these were all purchased directly from the artists in the 1940's and 50's, and all were well worn at the time of purchase!