The Gunadule indigenous community, also known as Kuna, Cuna, or Tule, is made up of about sixty thousand indigenous people living in Colombia and Panama. Of these, two thousand live in Colombia in the departments of Chocó and Antioquia, in the territories of the Dairén and the Gulf of Urabá. In Panama, they are located in the Guna Yala region.
For them, gunadule means "person who lives on the surface of the earth". Guna is the "surface of the earth" and Dule is the "person".
Within the multiple activities carried out by the Gunadules, we find that men are mainly engaged in agricultural work and other activities such as construction, and women combine domestic work with handicraft work in which they give life to the molas, pieces that are a fundamental part of their costumes and that carry with them the culture of their people.
The women are the custodians and artisans of the molas, an artisan technique with which they elaborate rectangles made with the "Appliqué" of colored fabrics that they wear on their chests, after gluing them with thread on th eir blouses.
The molas reflect the way in which their universe is structured. For the Gunadules, according to the research developed by the "Gold Museum" of the Bank of the Republic, "the universe is like a calabazo with a series of superimposed layers inside. Those layers that support it are made of gold, each one with a different color: blue, red, or yellow. Everything on top of them is gold and they are covered by many types of flowers".
These handcrafted pieces are part of the Gunadule women's lives because they are used at all times. Both in their daily life and in celebrations, rituals, or community congresses.
As for its elaboration, the women are initiated in the technique from the age of about four and learn from the women closest to them in their community. "A woman can take between five and seven days to make a mola. The quality of the stitch is a source of prestige and recognition among the women. Short, regular, and precise stitches indicate the maker as the owner of a great body skill," indicates the researchers of the Gold Museum.
Sistema de Información para la Artesanía - Siart.