Intricate Designs from the Kuna people of Panama
Where are Molas made?
The Kuna people live in all areas of
Panama, but most live on small islands
off the cost of the Kuna Yala, known as
the San Blas Islands.
Who are the Kuna People?
The Kuna are animists: They believe that the poni, groups of
malevolent spirits roam the earth entering peoples bodies
causing sickness and disease. The use the nuchus, small
dolls carved out of balsa wood, to protect themselves from
The Kuna have the most advanced political system of any
tribal group in Latin America. They have three chiefs who
manage village politics and a series of meetings called
The Kuna have a matriarch society- belongings and property
are always handed down from mother to daughter, and
women are seen as very important in the community.
What is a Mola?
The mola forms part of the traditional costume of a Kuna
woman, two mola panels being incorporated as front and back
panels in a blouse.
In Dulegaya, the Kuna's native language, "mola" means "shirt"
or "clothing". The mola originated with the tradition of Kuna
women painting their bodies with geometric designs, using
available natural colours; in later years these same designs
were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought
from the European settlers of Panamá.
What is Symmetry?
Symmetry: Symmetry is when a shape
is the same if you flip, slide or turn it.
If you put an invisible line through the
center of an object and both sides match,
this is called a line of symmetry.