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Mola - Kuna Tribe, Panama and Colombia

Mola artist at work.The mola artwork you see in our store was made by Kuna tribespeople living in the mountains outside Bogota, Colombia. In Bogota’s leather district we found the folks turning these molas into useful wallets and handbags.

Mola originated as body-painting art. The Kuna didn’t start transferring their traditional designs onto fabric until after contact with Spanish missionaries. It evolved into what you see today, a reverse-application technique. First, two to seven layers of different-colored cotton cloth are sewn together. Then the design is formed by cutting away parts of each layer, and the edges of each layer are turned under and sewn down with tiny stitches.

These wallets and bags are handmade with genuine Colombian leather and cotton. All are unique and contain all sorts of variations and imperfections.