HAL 2019 World – Day 5 San Blas Islands

January 27, 2019 Paul Groves

Today we visited one of the San Blas Islands.  The are over 300 of them of which only 49 are populated.  The islands are inhabited by the Guna people.  These are not wealthy people.  One source of their income is from the sale of their needlework called “Mola” to visiting Cruise ships.

The traditional costume of a Guna woman consists of a patterned blue cotton wrapped skirt, red and yellow headscarf, arm and leg beads, gold nose rings and earrings and the many layered and finely sewn mola panel blouse.

Molas are hand-made using a reverse appliqué technique. Several layers (usually two to seven) of different-colored cloth (usually cotton) are sewn together; the design is then formed by cutting away parts of each layer. The edges of the layers are then turned under and sewn down. Often, the stitches are nearly invisible. This is achieved by using a thread the same color as the layer being sewn, sewing blind stitches, and sewing tiny stitches. The finest molas have extremely fine stitching, made using tiny needles.