Shirt Panels of the Kuna People

I am enthralled. I have found beautiful art to share…

kunapeople2_1950These designs are called Molas, they come from the Kuna people of the San Blias Islands of Panama.kunapeople5_1950I stumble upon these images while looking through the Indianapolis Museum of Arts permanent collection. The museum’s website is full of wonderful and entertaining information about these objects, like this little gem –

“Molas with highly abstract motifs are closely related to the geometric patterns that Kuna people used to paint on their bodies. After Catholic and Protestant missionaries arrived in Panama, the Kuna people were influenced to wear clothing, which they painted using their traditional geometric motifs.”kunapeople8_1950While early designs where painted on fabric, these designs from the 1950s were handmade using a reverse appliqué  technique.kunapeople14_1950Each panel includes between two and seven layers of fabric.kunapeople15_1950Popular motifs include geometric designs and abstract figures of people animals and birds.kunapeople12_1950kunapeople11_1950kunapeople13_1950kunapeople9_1950kunapeople1_1950While many designs feature traditional myths and legends of the Kuna people, in the last 50 years Western imagery has also influenced their artwork. This example shows one artist’s interpretation of the RCA radio logo.kunapeople10_1950


 For more information and to see even more of this amazing collection, visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art.kunapeople3_1950



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