MOLAS— USED (actually worn by Cuna women
When you go to each individual mola page, please scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the mola. Our website program is placing them low on the page.
Molas come from the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama. They are used in the Kuna women’s native dress. The women’s blouse is made from a pair of very similar molas, one on the front and one on the back. The technique is called reverse appliqué and the complex designs are famous. A stack of rectangular pieces of cloth, preferably cotton, and of different colors is made first. Then the artist cuts down to the layer of color she wishes to expose in the design and turns under and stitches down the layers above so as to show that color. In a layered color design, each layer is turned under a slightly larger amount until all of the colors in the stack are visible. This technique requires skill and fine, precise, invisible stitching. Some pieces are ornamented with embroidery on the surface.
There are two groups of molas on our website. The second group, on this page, was bought by one person directly from the Kunas in the 1980's and is unusual because all molas in that group were actually worn by for everyday use by Kuna women. Most of those are more primitive in design than molas commercially available and show varying degrees of wear and many have some stains. These molas have all been carefully washed, but stain-removing agents were not used for fear of damaging the textile or color. Fading, soiling, crocking, and wear are noted. Crocking is a textile term which means the wearing off of color from one fabric or surface to another. Many have fabric layers which are prints rather than solid colors and this is something I have not seen in molas for the trade. These printed fabrics add an exta dimension of vitality to those molas. Also, molas sold to the trade generally are all cotton or cotton/polyester plain weaves whereas some of these incorporate layers of polyester double knits and other fabric structures not generally seen in molas. These used molas would be great for use in sewing and textile projects and designs.
Authentic Cuna blouse with front and back molas. Fair condition. Seams are not intact.
16 1/2"W X 19"H.
Mola pair used on a blouse; back and front are still connected. Some soiling and crocking,
17 1/2 "W X 15"H. The bird is right side up on one side of the blouse and upside down on the other!
Very charming mola. Very little fading and only a small amount of surface wear.
18"W X 14"H.
Rows and rows of difficult zig zags, all in good condition. Some fading and crocking. 17"W X 16"H.
Mola pair used on a blouse. Back and front are still connected. Some soiling and crocking,
17"H X 18"W.
Slight fading of the red and very slight soiling. Some fraying of the underlying print fabric on the right and left side. 18"W X 14"H.
Some stains and crocking, edges of a few areas have frayed. 19"W X 15"H.
Some staining and crocking, but much wear of colored underlay areas.
18"W X 14 1/2"H.
No stains, very little crocking and wear. 19"W X 15 1/2"H.
A few small stains, extensive crocking onto the yellow, and moderate fraying of the red fabric.
18"W X 15"H.
Considerable fading of everything except the blue, some wear on the stitching. 20"W X 15"H.
Red top layer has faded a lot and there is about 1 1/2"' of frayed red fabric just above the center.
18"W X 15"H.
Red is quite faded, considerable staining and crocking of grey onto the surface. Some worn spots.
18"W X 14"H.
A few bad stains. 19"W X 15"H.
Red and black are considerably and unevely faded, but mola is otherwise in good condition with only tiny wear areas. 19"W X 15"H.
Bottom and center of mola are considerably faded. No stains, very little wear. 17"W X 13"H.
Extensive crocking, a little bit of wear. 16"W X 13"H.
Black fabric is faded. Considerable crocking and wear. 17"W X 13"H.
Blue is more royal blue and orange more red orange than appear in photo. Slight crocking and small hole to the left of the center. 19"W X 15"H.
Crocking on the red and torn and worn areas on the red layer. 17"W X 13"H.
Cruder stitching than most and slight staining and fraying. 17 1/2"W X 15"H.
Crocking of the blue and red and a few small stains. 21 1/2"W X 17 1/2"H.