I love molas, an art form from the indigenous Kuna Indians in Panama. I have collected quite a few... probably about 10 or 12 while living here in San José, and I was able to see Kuna women in Panama City, making and selling the molas. I had read in a guidebook that Kuna will let you take photos of them but only if you pay them $1 first. So I was prepared to pay for this photo!The Kuna women wear the molas as a visual symbol of where they are at in life. I have learned a lot as I ask at booths that sell the artwork or from books and websites along the way in the last couple years. The common pattern of unending lines symbolizes the cycle of life and is a foundational part of their beliefs and designs. This woman wears the mola on her stomach, which is somewhat hidden by her puffy sleeves. The beads on her legs are also handmade and complex as they are made of a single strand of beads and wrapped around her legs to create the geometric patterns.
The Kuna women are under the table to stay out of the sun while working on molas. Each mola takes about 3 to 5 months to complete if they are done well. It's amazing to me how patient they are with the artwork... and then how cheap the artwork is for having taken them so long to complete.