Mola: /(n)/ The mola forms part of the traditional costume of a Kuna woman, two mola panels being incorporated as front and back panels in a blouse. In Dulegaya, the Kuna’s native language, “mola” means “shirt” or “clothing”. The mola originated with the tradition of Kuna women painting their bodies with geometrical designs, using available natural colours; in later years these same designs were woven in cotton, and later still, sewn using cloth bought from the European settlers of Panamá.
What can i say? I’m adicted to Molas. I find them authentical, traditional and inspirational. Their geometric figures are not geometric at all. They are handmade, hence crooked, hence beautifull. Animals and flowers are all shown in there most simplest form possible. No details and yet recognisable. The intricate designs capture my attention completely. The illustrations incorporate both traditional and modern elements. The use of colour is a lesson to be learned. “Early mola designs were related to pre-Hispanic body painting; today, mola designs may include abstract geometric designs, motifs from the natural world, or Kuna legends.” What could the outcome artowrk be, for themes related to politics and popular culture?
I wonder what a graphic designer could do with such a technique? We are so fond of geometrical perfection and colour combinations, and have driven these concepts away from it’s initial beauty and into the grey world of corporate and packaging design. Well, i guess it’s time to go back to basics and explore the realm of possibilities given by our ancestors. I’m a Colombian inspired by Molas and i certainly believe that this attraction towards them is strongly linked with what i see behind the artwork: it reminds me of home. I guess sometimes inspiration has been standing there all along, written by history, and waiting for us to grab it.