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Vintage Kuna Mola Costume Mounted on Iron Stand

The mola forms part of the traditional costume of a Kuna Panama woman, two mola panels being used as front and back panels in a blouse. In Dulegaya, the Kuna's native language, "mola" means "shirt" or "clothing". Molas are hand made using a reverse appliqu technique with two to seven layers of different-colored cloth usually cotton. The design is then formed by cutting away parts of each layer. The edges of the layers are then turned under and sewn down. Often, the stitches are nearly invisible. This is achieved by using a thread the same color as the layer being sewn, sewing blind stitches, and sewing tiny stitches. The largest pattern is typically cut from the top layer, and progressively smaller patterns from each subsequent layer, thus revealing the colors beneath in successive layers. This basic scheme can be varied by cutting through multiple layers at once, hence varying the sequence of colors. Some molas also incorporate patches of contrasting colors, included in the design at certain points, to introduce additional variations of color. This complete two-sided mola shirt is displayed on a reclaimed iron stand. 24"h x 17"w x 3"d.


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