This item is sold out at the moment.

Vintage Mola Textile 30, Percussion- Native Kuna Indian Reverse Applique

Sold by rayela
+ $6.00 shipping
+ $6.00 shipping


Item details

Dimensions: 17"x 12.5"
Metric: 43 x 31 cm

Note: This mola has been worn.

Click on the zoom options for larger images.

The Kuna Indians of the San Blas Islands make exquisite textiles like this one, called a mola. The panels are used to decorate their blouses, normally one in the front and one in back. They were originally inspired by traditional motifs from their body art and Kuna legend, but later went on to incorporate images from daily life, including the mass media.

The Kuna are found in Panama and Colombia. The women continue to wear molas and being skilled in the craft is honored among them. It has also become an important source of income for them through tourism and collectors. There are many "factories" that imitate molas and cater only to tourism. My supplier lived in Panama for 17 years and has a mola addiction.

The technique is exquisite and the color choices are often pretty wild. Molas are made by combining cut-work or reverse appliqué and regular appliqué. Reverse appliqué is the process of cutting into a background fabric to expose that color of fabric, while the best known form of appliqué adds fabric to the top of another piece for contrast. The Kuna use both, cutting back and adding on top. They accent the design with embroidery.

A mola appreciates in value depending on how old it is, if it was used by a Kuna woman as part of a blouse, how tiny the stitches are, how many layers of fabric were used for cut-work, and for the overall design of the piece. Similar techniques are used in traditional Hawaiian quilts, by the Sindhi people in Pakistan, by the Hmong in Thailand and around the world. But, each culture has translated the technique uniquely and the Kuna are undoubtedly the most psychedelic of them all!

These panels can be framed as they are or incorporated into other projects (t-shirts, jean jackets, pillows, purses, quilts). The last photo shows the back so that you can see some of the stitching.

Please visit my store for many more gorgeous ethnic textiles and for things that I make, too. I combine shipping on multiple purchases, ship worldwide, and strive to support hand made textiles from many cultures. Free shipping on purchases over $100!

All sales on Etsy are in USD.

My blog, Fiber Focus: http:\/\/\/

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Shipping & policies
Preparation takes 1-3 business days
Arrives from the United States
Estimated Shipping
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I ship world wide and offer free shipping on purchases in the US over $100. Multiple purchases are combined into one shipment.

Etsy has a system during the listing process where we have to estimate how much an item will cost in shipping if purchased with another item. This can be difficult given that I have a range of sizes and weights that could end up in a mix very different from the amount quoted. I refund the difference if it is over $.50 and often cover the expense if it's more than what was estimated, but every now and then, it might be too big of a difference. I can fit lots of the smaller items into a flat rate envelope, but on larger pieces, it would be best to ask about shipping if the total will be under $100.

International customers- I've had to revise this free shipping offer on heavier items- but I'll cover $10 per $100 spent on shipping.

Prices are quoted for USPS flat rate envelopes or priority mail, but I can ship snail mail if preferred. I use simple packaging, recycling when possible. I use Pay Pal's shipping services which provides a bar code and excellent tracking services, so I normally do not recommend insurance and confirmation, but can include it if requested. Customer pays for the extras.

International customers, we are not allowed to describe our packages as "gifts". I know it decreases your customs fees, but other sellers have gotten into trouble for that, so it's really not a good idea.


I accept Pay Pal, checks and money orders.

Returns & exchanges

I accept returns on any purchase for any reason. I believe not seeing the item right in front of you is the downside of buying/selling online, so I am happy to take things back that do not fulfill your expectations. I have had very few returns over the years and I work hard on photos and descriptions in order to describe the item as best as possible.

Returns must be done within 3 days of item receipt. I refund the purchase, but not shipping.

Most of my items are textiles, so there is no real concern for damage during shipping. If an item is lost, we will follow the post office's tracking procedures (a long and harrowing process) and they issue the refund. Fortunately, this has been a rare happening in my experience. The post office will not initiate any tracking until after one month after the item was posted, so patience is required.

Additional policies

Tight budget? I've made a payment plan that has worked out well with a couple of customers. I'm willing to do this for purchases over $100.

Can't do consignment. Sorry. Prices on Etsy are already close to wholesale, but I can give further discounts for volume purchases.