dinsdag 22 februari 2011
World Wednesday: molas from Panama
In my last job, I was so fortunate to travel a bit. Early 2010 a meeting took me to Panama. Now, I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what to expect of that country. The Panama canal was about the only thing I knew. After having spent a week there, Panama still puzzled me, but I had experienced some extraordinary beauty.
The trip took far away from the flats in the capital to the north, yes, to the Caribbean Sea. Our group entered a boat that brought us to Kuna Yala, a collection of islands about an hour from the nearest mainland. These islands are inhabited by the Kuna. The Kuna are one of only a few Indigenous Peoples that have autonomy over their land. The Kuna women make and wear colorful textiles called molas. In the Kuna museum on one on the islands we were explained the technique of molas: several layers of different-coloured cloth are sewn together. Then a pattern is created by cutting away parts of each layers, after which the layers are sewn down. The finest molas have nearly invisible stitches, made using tiny needles. It can take months to complete a mola!
The mola patterns are also used on other items that are sold to tourists, like bags and small parcels.