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Woman’s Blouse (Mola)

Curated Submission
San Blas Islands, Panama
1990 – 2007
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
38 x 50.5
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Reverse appliquéd, hand-sewn
Promised Gift of Max Allen
Textile Museum of Canada T2010.1.162
Mola blouses and their striking panels are constructed from multiple layers of brilliantly coloured cloth. Mola designs are drawn, cut, and appliquéd by Kuna women in a complex technique that actually uses the simplest technology: just needles, thread and scissors.

The pattern for this mola, a medicinal vine (akebandup), was cut by Adelina Kantule and sewn by her daughter, Domitila. She and her brother, Oswaldo de León Kantule, were born on the island of Ustupu and are the great-grandchildren of the leader of the 1923 Revolution that established Kuna Yala as a semi-autonomous province of Panama.

The women in the Kantule family are all mola-makers. Often, when preparing for a girl’s coming-of-age ceremony, her relatives will agree on a common theme or design for their molas as a kind of uniform identifying them as family members.
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