The Kuna Indians are Central Americas last unassimilated indigenous tribe.
The Kuna Indians have stepped into modern times with both their culture and their political automony intact. They accomplished this by mounting a successful rebellion against the Panamanian government in 1925.
The Kuna Indians govern themselves, and each village is autonomous. This is the meeting place for one Kuna village, where they gather to hear the stories and advice of the elders.
Their government is a social democracy where each has rights to a voice in council. There are various political parties among the Kuna Indians.
Las banderas representan partidos políticos (political parties) diferentes.
Each person is expected to make their own way in Kuna society, but also to contribute to communal labor, such as farming a plot of land…
…or preparing coconuts brought to the island by boat.
For transportation, the Kuna indians use boats that they have made by digging out a single tree. These are used to transport water from the mainland to the islands.
Many Kuna women make a living by creating molas.
In fact, many women make more money than men by selling their hand-crafted molas.
Molas take weeks to create. No two molas are the same!
The quality of the mola is determined by factors such as: Number of layers Fineness of stitching Evenness and width of cutouts Addition of details such as zigzag borders, lattice-work or embroidery General artistic merit of the design and color combination.
When Kuna women get tired of their molas (blouses), they typically disassemble them and sell them to collectors.
When it comes to molas, second-hand is the best! Authentic molas, and not ones created just for tourists, will show signs of wear, such as fading and stitch marks along the edges of the paneling.
Mola-making has been a custom among the Kuna for more than a century, but has only recently become an important commodity for tourist trade.
Tourism and molas provide a source of income for the Kuna, but also have an impact on their culture.
In what ways could increased tourism among the Kuna impact their culture?
How have molas served to both maintain and to threaten the cultural identity of the Kuna Indians?
Art Project Create your own mola design using the following materials: 8 ½ x 11 piece of poster board Yarn Glue
Art Project Like the Kuna Indians designs, yours can represent the nature around you, an object from your everyday life, depict a political or pop culture theme, a geometric design, or a legend.