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Mola (Panama)

This is a Mola. It is dated ca. 1965 and we acquired it in 1969. Its medium is cotton and its technique is appliquéd and reverse appliquéd, embroidered. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Made by the Kuna women of the San Blas Islands of Panama, this colorful mola would have formed part of a woman’s blouse. Using a reverse appliqué process, several layers of cloth are cut away starting with the top layer to reveal the colors of the fabric below. The resulting pattern often is embellished with embroidery stitches and patchwork. In this particular mola, the central motif is a human figure, a shaman perhaps, astride a large, bird-like creature with human eyes and square teeth. The shaman controls the fearsome creature using reins and a bit. Rickrack trim is applied to the creature’s tail feathers rather than using the time consuming reverse appliqué method to make zigzag lines. Additional details include two smaller shamans riding hybrid creatures, small animals and a directional arrow with indecipherable text.

This object was donated by Miss Marion Miller. It is credited Gift of Marion Miller.

  • Robe (Japan)
  • cotton appliqué and embroidery on elm bark (ohyo) foundation.
  • Gift of Alice Boney.
  • 1962-67-1

Its dimensions are

H x W: 39 x 47 cm (15 3/8 x 18 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Mola (Panama); cotton; H x W: 39 x 47 cm (15 3/8 x 18 1/2 in.); Gift of Marion Miller; 1969-14-1

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Mola (Panama) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=22 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>