Monday, 8 February 2010

Mucho Molas of Kuna Yala



Think Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands and you are thinking Molas! No visit to Kuna Yala is complete without a mola shopping experience. Some of the Bristol Rose crew got more involved in mola shopping than others.

Traditional mola designs are very geometric with themes of animals, ceremonies, nature.

Children often come along for the ride as mother or grandmother show their work for sale.


Sales made, time to sail to the next boat or island.

We all enjoyed the mola experience as various Kunas visited us in their dug out canoes while we were at anchor.

Vernancio, much more than a traveling salesperson

When we thought we had purchased enough molas (if that is ever possible) we received a visit from Venancio. We are very glad we did not turn him away, he has quite the reputation for creating very fine molas.

Venancio's molas are impossible to resist, so I didn't!


Master mola artist Venancio Restrepo shows his business card and descriptions of his work in a publication about Molas.


Taking an educational approach to his salesmanship, Venancio shows how to recognize the work of the masters. Molas by Venancio and Lisa (whom we did not get a chance to meet) are said to be the finest currently available.




Venancio makes perfect matches of thread to fabric. Here he also shows that his stitching is extremely straight, with each stitch carefully mastered and accurately counted for perfect symmetry.




Layer upon layer of fabric, expertly cut and stitched to reveal more colors beneath.


Sea themes are popular in molas.



Venancio stitches his name into his molas.


Two-toned molas are less common but often more striking.


This Kuna home displays a number of applique molas of modern or non-traditional design.


As the book says, "There are also subjects resulting from acculturation that are often amusing and interesting....". This mola is quite a departure from the traditional in theme yet displays some very fine stitching. Maybe not to every taste but still, quite, umm, interesting.


Maybe not a masterpiece, one of my first purchases, just because I like the flow of the design.


I couldn't resist buying a traditional blouse from this young mola maker.


"Photo, $1"

Mola designs are plentiful, that's what makes them so interesting to look at. You know that you'll always see something new and surprising among the many mola artists of Kuna Yala. For much more information on the San Blas and Panama, see Owen's Ancestral Skills blog.

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