"For centuries, the Guna (previously known as Kuna), an Indigenous group residing in Panama and parts of neighboring Colombia, have been creating colorfully embroidered clothing. A mola, which translates to “shirt” in the Guna language, is a piece of traditional dress typically worn by women and known for its bright colors and intricate designs depicting flowers, birds, reptiles, animals and other emblems indicative of Mother Nature. The textile art began in the San Blas Islands, an archipelago off the northern coast of Panama that’s part of the Guna Yala Region, where many Guna people continue to live...
To create each garment, women and girls use a technique called reverse appliqué, which involves layering two or more fabrics of different colors and sewing them together, then using a pair of scissors to carefully snip away parts of each layer to reveal the design. Next, they use fabric remnants to fill in each layer, creating a striking geometric-like form. The more layers used, the more complex the final piece, which is adorned with intricate embroidery sewn by hand. Often, the base fabric of a piece is black to help emphasize the other colors and make them pop on the finished garment.
The art of creating a mola is something that’s handed down from one generation of Guna women to the next, with grandmothers and mothers introducing the art form to young girls in their family..."
" Smithsonian Magazine, August 10, 2022
This particular mola is made in the traditional way on a dark maroon background. It looks like a long necked bird with two feet and a flat tail. Could it be a swan? A stork? A cormorant? It is layered and reverse appliquéd in a pleasing color combination. It would be lovely framed or made into a pillow. This one is not as intricately embroidered as the orange one, available here.
state of origin: Panama
dimensions: 13.5" by 12.5"