Example of a mola blouse. Example of a mola blouse.

A mola is a decorated blouse worn as part of the traditional costume of Kuna (Cuna, Guna, Quna) women in Panama. In Dulegaya (the Kuna language), the word mola means ‘blouse,’ ‘shirt’ or ‘clothing'. By the end of the twentieth century, however, the term mola had become almost synonymous with the decorated panels, on the front and back of the blouse, and hence with the associated technique of reverse appliqué.

But in general, a mola is a short sleeved blouse decorated with two reverse appliq panels, one at the front and one at the back of the garment. It would appear that the use of mola panels originated with the pre-Columbian tradition of Kuna women painting their bodies with geometric designs. These designs, it would appear, were later included in the mola panels.


  • HARTMANN, Günther (1980). Molakana: Volkskunst der Cuna, Panama, Berlin: Museum für Völkerkunde.
  • PARKER, Ann and Neal AVON (1977). Molas: Folk Art of the Cuna Indians, New York: Barre Publishing.
  • PERRIN, Michel (1999). Magnificent Molas: The Art of the Guna Indians, Paris: Flammarion.
  • (retrieved 3rd April 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 8th July 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 19 June 2017 17:14