Island Influence on the Mola

Laura on January 15th, 2008

The earliest recorded history recognizing the Kuna people comes from the travels of 16th century Spanish explorers. At this time the Kuna wore little in the way of clothing. In the mid 19th century the Kuna who had lived inland along rivers along the northeastern coast of Panama migrated to the string of islands just off shore in the same region. Given exposure to trade and buccaneer vessels alike the Kuna began to trade coconuts in return for durable goods. The Kuna collected cotton cloth, scissors and thread among other things. Many of the fabrics were brightly colored coming from Europe and India.

The Kuna people began to cover themselves free of missionary influence in the early 1700’s. The women created blouses with rough reverse applique designs to cover their chest, abdomen and thighs while also wearing a large rectangular piece of fabric wrapped around their lower body. Nearly two hundred years later with time and trade the long, tunic style mola shortened to stop at the abdomen. By the turn of the 2oth century mola design was essentially what it is today although current generations of Kuna craftswomen create with more color, control and creativity than ever before.

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.