The Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama created these colorful, hand-stitched blouses, which outside the islands are considered works of art to be framed or made into other decorative items. These folk art textiles are made by an appliqué process referred to as “reverse appliqué,” using several layers of differently colored textiles which are sewn together. The layers are cut and stitched to allow the different colors to show through in the finished design. Designs depict flora, fauna, geometrics, and whimsical themes. The small colorful animal molas displayed in the library are sometimes called “molitas.” On the average a mola takes from four to six weeks to complete.
In 1964 the Peace Corps helped organize a Mola cooperative of 300 Kuna women. Today more than 2,000 are active. The cooperative markets the molas and helps to educate the people. The best mola makers are highly honored among the Kuna people.