Native of the Guna Dule communities of Colombia and the San Blas Islands in Panamá, the Kuna textiles are an intricate Latin American artisanal technique from which the vision and mission of Mola Sasa were born almost 7 years ago when Yasmin Sabet, our Founder and Creative Director, rediscovered these iconic textiles during a visit to a well known artisanal market in Downtown Bogotá, Colombia.
Commonly known as “molas”, which translates to “clothes” in the Guna Dule language, this fine hand-sewn textiles are originally apparel textiles that are still worn by the women of the community on their traditional blouses as symbols of protection and representation. The women will always craft them as pairs in order to wear one in the front and one in the back of their shirts.
Each “mola” design is not only a highly refined development of an appliqué technique of hand-sewing cut-out layers of fabrics to form an intricate piece of art, but a sacred manifestation of the guidance of the Guna Dule gods and a trace of their cultural heritage.
Myth says that the technique and original designs were hidden in the Galus, sacred places that exist in other layers of the universe. The Neles, their spiritual leaders, tried several times to bring back the knowledge and images of the technique through their dreams, but a beautiful woman, known as the goddess of the scissors, never allowed them to enter. It wasn’t until Nagegiryai, the first Nele woman, that the secrets were revealed to the community. Nagegiryai first experienced flashes of changing designs, then discovered paintings on trees and bodies of young women, and finally, on her last trip, she was taught the art of writing or creating “Mola” textiles.
Within their enormous variety of “Mola” textiles, the Guna Dule primarily distinguish two large sets of designs:
THE NAGA, which are protective textiles made up of geometric designs that often resemble or represent elements of nature.
THE GOANIGGADI figurative designs that show events of their daily life which distract and confuse the enemy with vibrating and bold colors.
At Mola Sasa we never cease to discover and study “Mola” textiles. From the unique and bold designs, to the intricate technique and the marvelous stories behind each and every single shape that is featured in a textile; they are truly pieces of art awaiting to be marveled by the world.
For our design process or for the development of our collections we usually work in two different ways with the artisans. We either bring new themes and concepts to the table that are completely unknown to the artisans or we play a lot with deconstructing our favorite Kuna textiles to then create new and original designs charged with stories that we then share with the artisans during our in-person workshops.
In our short span, we have not only brought to light the Guna Dule exceptional artisanal technique but we have also created employment for more than 80 families of the community located in Caiman Alto, Colombia We also built a work center on Rosemary’s land (a local community leader) for the women to be able to work all together outside of their houses as a team. They have also used this space for importan meetings were they discuss various important issues such as Sexual education for young girls. Additionally, we are constantly in close contact with them in order to expand our mission and ensure a lasting social change.