What Are Molas? [The Art Form]

Molas are a unique form of textile art from the Kuna people of Panama and Colombia. This indigenous group is known for its brightly colored, intricately designed textiles, which are crafted with great care and attention to detail.

The mola itself is created through the process of reverse appliqué, in which pieces of fabric are layered and cut to create a design. The Kuna people use molas as a form of cultural expression, often depicting scenes related to their lifestyle and spiritual beliefs.

Process of Making Molas

Molas are created through the process of reverse appliqué, which is a technique that involves stitching two pieces of fabric together with an opening in the middle. The top layer is then cut to form a design, leaving the bottom fabric intact.

This process creates an intricate pattern that appears three-dimensional when viewed from the front. Making molas requires precision and patience, as it can take hours or even days to complete a single piece.

The Materials Used

Molas are typically made from two layers of cotton fabric, though the Kuna people also use silk, wool and recycled materials. The fabrics are usually brightly colored or printed with geometric patterns, but some molas can also feature images of animals or plants.

After the two pieces of fabric are stitched together, the top layer is then cut to form a design. The pieces can be hand-sewn together or glued with a fabric adhesive.

The Meaning of Molas

Molas are often used by the Kuna people to depict scenes related to their lifestyle and beliefs. Common designs include animals, plants, boats and geometric patterns.

Some molas may also feature symbols that represent spiritual concepts such as creation, life and death. In addition to being a form of cultural expression, molas are also used as decorations in homes or clothing.

How to Buy or Sell Molas

Molas can be purchased from local artisans and craft markets in Panama and Colombia. They can also be bought online, though it is important to make sure that the seller is reputable and selling authentic items.

Selling molas can also be a lucrative business for skilled craftsmen, as they are often highly sought after by tourists and collectors.

Factors to Consider When Buying or Selling Molas

There are several factors to consider when buying or selling molas. The following are some things to keep in mind:


When buying molas, it is important to look for pieces that are made from high-quality materials and have been crafted with attention to detail.


Molas can vary greatly in price depending on the quality of the fabric and the level of craftsmanship. Be sure to research pricing ahead of time and compare prices from different sellers before making a purchase.


It is also important to make sure that the molas you are buying or selling are authentic and made by local artisans. Look for sellers who can provide proof of origin or authenticity.

Market Demand

When selling molas, consider the demand for certain items in different markets. This can help you determine which pieces are most likely to sell and how much they should be priced at.


In some countries, it is necessary to obtain a license to sell molas or other handicrafts. Be sure to check with local authorities for specific regulations and requirements.

Cultural Respect

When buying or selling molas, be sure to do so with respect for the culture and traditions of the Kuna people.


Lastly, consider the logistics of shipping molas when buying or selling them. This is especially important if you are purchasing from or selling to customers overseas. Those are the main factors to consider when buying or selling molas.

With the right knowledge and preparation, you can ensure that your transactions are safe, smooth and successful. And of course, don't forget to appreciate these beautiful pieces of art for their craftsmanship and cultural significance!

What are the benefits of buying or selling molas?

There are several benefits to buying and selling molas. Here are some of the main advantages:

Supporting local artisans

By buying and selling molas, you are helping to support the livelihoods of local artisans and their families. This ensures that their craft and culture will be preserved for future generations.

Connecting with history and culture

Buying or selling molas is a great way to connect with the history and culture of the Kuna people. It can also be an opportunity to learn about their artistry techniques and value systems.

Earning income

For those selling molas, it can be a very lucrative business. Many tourists and collectors are eager to purchase these unique works of art, so there is a huge profit potential.

Gift giving

Molas make wonderful gifts, as they can be used to decorate homes or add an interesting and unique touch to clothing.


For serious collectors, molas can also be seen as an investment. Since they are unique works of art and often highly sought after, the value of a piece may increase over time.

Environmental stewardship

Finally, buying and selling molas can also be seen as a way of promoting environmental stewardship. This is because the fabrics used in their products come from natural sources and are produced sustainably.

These are just some of the benefits of buying or selling molas. Whether you're a collector, a tourist or simply appreciate the beauty of these handmade pieces, there are many advantages to doing so. And with the right research and knowledge, you can ensure that your transactions are safe and successful.


In conclusion, buying or selling molas can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Not only is it a great way to support local artisans, but it can also provide an opportunity to learn more about the culture and history of the Kuna people.

Furthermore, buyers and sellers alike may benefit from the potential for profit and investment that comes with these unique works of art. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can ensure that your transactions are safe and successful. At the end of the day, molas are more than just art.

They represent an important part of the culture and tradition of the Kuna people, so it's important to appreciate and respect them. Doing so will help ensure that their craft and heritage is preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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