Two years ago our small family - two adults and two toddlers, then one and three - left the dark and cold season here, for the light and warmth of Panama.
At the time we left I had a vague idea of an indigenous people that I had heard made appliqued "pictures". When we arrived at our first overnight hotel in Panama City, the hotel dispalyed some of them, and I thought they were a treasure they showed, and that I never would be able to see them in person. I was right about how precious the Kuna art is and wrong about never being able to see them.
We spent seven weeks on the Caribbean coast - not far from where the Kuna have their own community. The women own the land, which is recognized as an autonomous territory or comarca.
The handwork of the women who make these Molas is just incredible. The work is reverse applique, combined with the smallest embroidery/quilting stitches. These pics are of two of the four I got to buy.
This with the birds is my favorite. I love the orange border.
The Molas are sold "as they are", so here is a close up of the back. They are made of three or four layers of fabric, and then the top layer is cut and appliqued to reveal the layer underneath. I have not yet attempted at trying my hand at the technique, but one day...