Tru-Ray® Mola Textile Art of the Cuna Indians

Mola Textile Art of the Cuna Indians

Difficulty: Easy

According to brain research in education, connecting factual knowledge to creativity enhances long term learning. After completing their unit on the Cuna Indian culture, 5th and 6th graders can apply their new knowledge in a creative form by designing their own Mola artwork.

Products Used:

Other Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Neocolor II Watersoluable Wax Pastels by Caran D’Ache®

Lesson Plan Ideas

Learning Objectives for Grades: 5 and 6

Students will:

  • Investigate Mola artwork created by the Central American Cuna Indians of the San Blas Islands in Panama.
  • Discover how different cultures use animal symbolism.
  • Explore elements of negative and positive space.
  • Experience culture through the vibrant opaque tropical colors and free flowing patterns of animals and daily life of the Cuna Indian Mola art.

Project Steps:

  1. Step 1:

    Research Molas are brightly colored, intricately designed cloth panels worn by the Cuna Indian women. Students can use books or information from the internet to reference original Mola artwork and how animals are symbolized in this artwork. Original Molas can also be purchased through the internet so students can see first-hand how they are made with several layers of textiles.

  2. Step 2:

    Construction of ArtworkStart with three 9" x 12" sheets of contrasting colors of Tru-Ray® Construction Paper. Next take two of the colors and fold them in half. On one of these sheets, draw a large animal shape, staying at least 1/2" from open edges. If you want the finished project to have two symmetrical animals, draw the entire animal on the half sheet, overlapping part of the animal on the fold (Example A, Fish Mola). Or if you want only one animal shape then draw half of the animal on the half sheet starting from the fold (Example B, Bird Mola). Cut the animal out. This is your positive shape. Take the positive shape, still folded, lay it on top of the second sheet of folded paper, making sure to line up the folds and draw a line 1/4" away from positive shape (Example C). Cut this shape out and set aside. Take the remaining paper and unfold it revealing the negative shape.

    Step 2

    Step 2

    Step 2


  3. Step 3:

    Assembling Artwork Gather positive shape, negative shape and remaining full sheet of 9" x 12" construction paper (Example D). Glue negative sheet onto full sheet of construction paper. Unfold positive shape and glue inside of negative sheet. (Example E).

    Step 3

    Step 3


  4. Step 4:

    Finishing Artwork: Fill in around animal by cutting shapes out of any remaining Tru-Ray® Construction Paper or use beautifully colored Neocolor II Watersoluable Wax Pastels by Caran D’Ache®.

    Bird Mola


  5. Step 5:

    Other Examples:

    Fish Mola

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