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MOL A S marks M olas, the distinctive blouses made and worn by Kuna women in Panama, are collected by thousands of enthusiasts as well as by museums all over the world. They are recognized everywhere as an identifier of the Kuna people and also of Panama. This book, based on original research, explores the origin of the mola in the early twentieth century, how it became part of the everyday dress ensemble of Kuna women, and its role in creating Kuna identity. Using an interdisciplinary approach that fuses historical, ethnographic, and material culture studies, author Diana Marks shows how the Kuna Revolution in 1925 reinforced the importance of the mola to Kuna identity, explains the motivation for continuing to sew molas, and speculates on the continued role of the mola in supporting the cultural survival of the Kuna people. Marks developed a detailed understanding of mola blouse construction by learning to sew mola panels, which gave her direct experience with the difficulty of reverse appliqué and surface appliqué, the complexity of the layering, and the need for careful planning of the placement of different fabric colors. The mola has become the quintessential souvenir for visitors to Panama. This book, with illustrations drawn from more than twenty museums as well as private collections, will be of interest to collectors and museum curators, but it is also part of ongoing debates on cultural authenticity, the flow of culture, the invention of traditions, and specifically Kuna issues of gender and politics. The illustrations show the development of designs and techniques. Photographs of Kuna women wearing the mola highlight changes in the garment as an item of indigenous fashion. anthropology • l atin america isbn 978-0-8263-5706-9 9 0 0 0 0 9 780826 357069 > “ f Dress, Identity, Culture MOLAS diana marks My fascination with Kuna molas began when I had the opportunity to examine hundreds of molas in a private collection. I began to wonder about their origin. Why spend hours sewing intricate mola panels? Are there multiple meanings attributed to the mola by Kuna women and by Kuna communities? What changes have been made to the mola blouse since its origin about one hundred years ago, and how can these changes be explained? Why is the mola still part of everyday dress for many Kuna women, and why do other Kuna women continue to wear the mola for cultural celebrations? “My research focused on two related threads: developing an understanding of how the mola originated and why the mola continues to be sewn and worn by Kuna women. The research in this book is based on the examination of molas from six ethnographic museums, selected to cover a onehundred -year period from 1906, the date of the earliest mola found in a collection. ” —diana marks, Preface diana marks is an independent researcher and writer specializing in ethnographic textiles. She lives in Sydney, Australia. university of new mexico press    • 800-249-7737 ...


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