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The Mola Blouses Collection: A Piece Telling Many Stories

10/13/2016

To celebrate the opening of our new studio and showroom, and to share with you a new story of artisanal work, we’ve created an exclusive collection of unique blouses with Mola applications.

In the Kuna language, Mola means “blouse”. Mola is a traditional textile art form, by the Guna ethnicity of Panama. Molas arte textiles that are sewn in panels with complex designs and mutliple layers, using an inverse applique technique.

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Molas are completely made by hand using various layers (usually from 2 to 7) of different colors that are sawn together. The design is later formed by cutting different parts of each layer. The edges of the layers are then sawn. The most refined molas have a very fine stitching, in these cases, very thin and small needles are used as tools.

The main design is regularly cut from the first layer, and then the other designs progressively smaller are cut from the other layers, revealing the colors underneath. It’s also possible to cut many layers at the same time or to change the color sequence. Some molas incorporate contrasting color patches, which provides variety to the design. Molas originated with the tradition of the Kuna woman of painting her body with geometric designs, using available natural colors. After the Spanish Conquest and the subsequent contact with missionaries, Kunas started to transfer their traditional geometric designs into fabrics, first by painting them directly, and then using the reverse applique technique.

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It is assumed that the oldest molas are between 150 and 170 years old. Besides its geometric inspiration, Kunas in the last 50 years started to create realistic and abstract designs of flowers, birds and the ocean.

Depending on the tradition of each island of Kuna Yala, Kuna women begin to manufacture Molas when reaching puberty, others way before. Women from this ethnicity that prefer to dress in a western way are a minority. Molas are of great importance to Kunas, since they’re one of the main works of art that identify their tradition and culture.

Molas can take from a few weeks up to 6 months to create, depending on the complexity of the design.

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