Traditional Kuna Mola, Panama

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The mola forms part of the traditional costume of a Kuna woman, with two mola panels incorporated as front and back sections of a blouse. In the Kuna people's native language, "mola" is used interchangably as "clothing" or sometimes "shirt".

This finely-woven example with an abstract Eagle or phoenix design in a warm palette. Would make a lovely addition to a collection, or as an decorative alternative to modern art in a home.

Dimensions available on request.

The Mola:

Originated with the tradition of Kuna women painting their bodies with geometrical designs, using available natural pigments; in later years these same designs were woven using a reverse-appliqué technique in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panama.

A greater number of layers is generally a good sign of high quality. The quality of stitching is also a factor, with the stitching on the best molas being close to invisible as with this example. A mola would generally take anywhere from two weeks up to six months to make, depending on the complexity of the design.

With gallery label on reverse from Zoe Starr. Zoe Starr was a noted NY dealer of indigenous American works during the 1970's.


  • Place of Origin
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1900
  • Period
    20th Century
  • Condition
    Good. Wear as pictured around the edges. Molas will often be found for sale with signs of use, such as stitch marks around the edges. While too much wear is obviously detrimental to value, slight wear is an encouraging sign, indicating that the mola was made for use, and not simply for sale to tourists..
  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use
  • Seller Location
    NYC, NY
  • Number of Items
  • Reference Number
About the Seller

1stdibs seller since 2005

Typical response time: 1 - 2 Days

Located in NYC, NY

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