The people of the municipality of Necocli unite behind Pitahaya Swimsuits’ initiative to create an aboriginal collection specific to the Olo-Tule (Kuna) community. Throughout the years these indigenous women have perfected the detailed, handcrafted, authentic art form known as the traditional mola.
The mola is a representative craft of our country, and one that PITAHAYA SWIMSUITS founder/designer Chechy Benedetti has chosen to portray over lycra pieces in her bathing suit designs. Benedetti, has achieved an exclusive alliance with the artisan women of the Kuna community. The group is led by Jovita and includes eleven women working to produce an average of 500 mola appliqués per week. The designer is honored to work hand in hand with these native people, so talented and active in their traditions.
A big thank you to the Caiman Indigenous Reserve, the Kuna community of Necocli.
WHAT IS A MOLA?
Mola is an art form that was created by the women of the Kuna Tribe, who live in the Darien Basin, shared by Colombia and Panama. They started out by tattooing their skin with geometrical designs; but after colonization in the 1500’s, the Cuna women transferred them on to fabric. First by painting on it, and secondly by putting layers of cotton fabric together and depicting their designs, using reverse appliqué technique.
Mola synthesizes Kuna culture, but, the influence of the modern world is a fact. Mola art developed majorly when Kuna women had access to store bought yard goods. In the past 50 years their designs evolved from geometric patterns to including modern graphics. New elements have been depicted in their Molas like birds, flowers, sea animals, and objects that represent important times such as posters, labels pictures from books and t.v. cartoons; as well as oral history themes within Kuna legends and culture. Dates are not certain as to when the Molas were created by reverse appliqué, but it is assumed that the oldest Molas are 150 to 170 years old.
The ability to make a good Mola is a status symbol for Kuna women. They have established quality through determined factors that include, number of layers, fineness of stitching, evenness and with of cutouts, addition of details such as zigzag borders, lattice work or embroidery, and general artistic merit of the design and color combination. They are not perfect, and they present imperfections and fading, as they are meant to be a part of the traditional dress the women wear. Molas are sold in pairs, as there are always two variations on the scene.