Back to All Events

Eden to Eternity: Molas from the San Blas Islands

Tuesday-Friday with 2:30 pm tour or by appointment | Weekends 1:00 - 4:30 PM

Donations welcome.

This exhibition features textiles hand-stitched by the Cuna Indians along the Caribbean coast of Panama. Molas are reverse appliqué panels made for the front and back of blouses worn by Cuna women. Each mola in this exhibition illustrates a story from the Bible—from the Garden of Eden to the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. Molas probably originated with the custom of body painting, traditionally done by Cuna women as early as the 17th century. By the 19th century this painting was replaced by textiles, perhaps because Christian missionaries insisted that the Cuna wear clothing. 

Molas are made by women and female children, using only a needle, scissors and thimble. The Cuna have selectively adopted certain aspects of Western civilization, but continue to maintain their indigenous lifestyle and traditions. Many belong to thriving Christian congregations, and biblical themes are often depicted in their textiles.

The molas in this exhibition are on loan from the collection of Sandra and Bob Bowden.

Pictured above: mola panel with Adam, Eve and the animals of Creation.
Right: Cuna blouse with mola depicting the Wise Men traveling to visit the Christ Child.