Visual Archaeology Interpretation



Kuna Girl and Mola

The Rainforest
Golden beetles, termites
Morning glories, army ants
Butterflies, tree frogs
Hummingbirds and bees
Acrobatic birds and colorful macaws
Long-tailed green iguanas
Hiding in the trees
All in the rainforest
Where do you get coconuts, fruits
Chocolate, nuts, spices and roots
From the rainforest
The rainforest
Where do you get cures for disease?
Maybe from plants and trees
From the rainforest
The Rainforest

Grade Level 3-6
Art • Language Arts • Music • Social Studies

The Kuna live on the northern coast of Panama and on the San Blas Islands off the coast. They call their territory “Kuna Yala,” the land of the Kuna. Molas are the colorful, richly decorated appliqué blouses made by the Kuna women that depict images from their environment or everyday life. The word mola means “clothing”, “dress”, or “ blouse” in Kuna language, but through constant usage it has come to mean simply the single panel of a Kuna woman’s appliquéd blouse.

The mola came into being a little over 100 years ago. Its design origins were a natural extension of body painting. After migrating from the mainland villages in Panama, the Kuna on the San Blas Islands came into frequent contact with sailing ships whose crews bartered goods for coconuts. Although some cloth had been traded since the 1700’s, new materials emerged – commercial cloth, thread, needles, thimbles, and scissors – without which molas would never have been developed. The mola blouse was born, and by the turn of the century it was to become a rich textile art.

The Art of Being Kuna

Kuna Yala Mola Gallery

The Kuna and their Molas Lesson Plan


Kuna and their Molas


















Copyright ©2004 Linda Kreft