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Cuna Indian Art

Grade: 6-12

Topic: Cuna Indian Art

Objective(s): To study the customs and traditions of some Hispanic cultures, thoroughly enough to teach the topic to other students (ESE students). The exploratory teaching students will create and implement lessons that will be taught to ESE students.

Areas of Infusion: Foreign Language, Visual Arts, exploratory teaching, exceptional education


Goal 3/Core Competencies
3.1 Information Managers
3.2 Effective Communicators
3.4 Critical and Creative Thinkers
3.8 Cooperative Workers
3.10 Culturally Sensitive Learners


Sunshine State Standards
FL.B.1.3
FL.B.1.4
VA.C.1.3
VA.C.1.4

Benchmark FL.B.1.3.5 The student knows various expressive forms of the target culture such as popular music, dance, children's magazines, children's literature, and common or everyday art work (e.g., designs typical of culture and used in clothing, pottery, ceramics, paintings, and architectural structures) and the influence of these forms on the larger community.

Benchmark FL.B.1.4.4 The student identifies and discusses artistic expressions and forms of the target culture (e.g. books, periodicals, videos, commercials, music, dance, design, and art).

Benchmark VA.C.1.3.1 The student recognizes that works of the art have general cultural style that reflects the people's values, beliefs, particular ways of perceiving the world, and levels of technology.

Benchmark VA.C.1.4.1 The student researches the artworks of an era, artist, or culture to discover the function and meaning of the art.

Student Resources:

" 9" x 12" construction paper in different colors
" Scissors
" Pencil
" Glue

Teacher Resources:

" Handout, "Background Information"

Powerpoint

" Handout, "How to do a Mola in the Classroom"

Procedures/Activities:

  • Show the PowerPoint
  • Introduce the Cuna culture to the students and discuss how the Cuna society is structured. Ask questions on how the Cuna society differs from our society in structure.
  • Show samples of molas. See "background Information.
  • Ask each student to select a design and create a mola.
  • Each student will design, create and implement their own mola art lesson. This lesson will be taught in an ESE classroom setting.
  • The ESE students will also create a mola.
  • Display molas in the classroom.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Cuna Indians From Panama

Located off the coast of Panama is the Archipelago of San Blas inhabited by the Can Indians. Agriculture is the primary source of the livelihood; they also fish and hunt. The Cuna is a matriarchal society where decisions are made by the women in the community. The white Indians of San Blas are actually albinos and are not permitted to intermarry.

The Cunas dress like no other Indians. They wear blouses, skirts and lots of jewelry. They use gold rings, bracelets, earrings and some wear nose rings. They use beaded bracelets called "chaquiras" in Spanish and "winia" in their language "Cuna Chibchan." The custom of using beaded bracelets originates from their first encounter with the Spaniards. The Spaniards traded their beads for the Cuna's gold and that is how thy started making "winia."

Th Cuna Indians are better known for making molas. The women use the molas for their wardrobe. They sew the mola to the front and back of their blouses. The women sew the molas in different color materials. Some Cuna men are dedicated to sewing molas. Most are albinos who need to stay indoors. The molas are done in an applique process but in a reverse form. Instead of sewing pieces of materials on top of each other, several layers of materials of different colors are stitched together. The cloth is folded into sections, and thread or pencil is used to mark the design the artist is trying to achieve. Then they use a fine-tipped scissors to cut the top layers to expose the underlying fabric. The cut edges are folded back and stitched to the layer below. Molas are considered works of art.


How to Make a Panamanian Mola in the Classroom

The Cuna Indians live on the island of San Blas off the coast of Panama. The women make tapestries called molas to decorate their blouses. Molas are fabric pictures created by using several layers of cloth of different colors. Usually there are three to seven layers of cloth. The top layer is rectangular and traditionally is black, red, or orange.

Materials:

" Construction paper or felt squares in different colors
" Scissors
" Pencil
" Glue

Procedures:

1. Select the shape you want to use (e.g., animal, floral, abstract).

2. Draw the shape you want to use in the construction of the mola.

3. Cut the shape (save all pieces of scraps for late use).

4. Glue the cut shape on top of the construction paper or a piece of felt.

5. Cut around the shape leaving a border of about ¾ inches.

6. Glue this two-color shape onto another piece of paper or felt, and cut around the shape leaving a ¾ inch border.

7. Continue gluing on another piece of paper or felt and cut the border. You may repeat this process from 4 to 6 times.

8. Glue the last piece onto a black, red, or orange construction paper or felt.

9. Use the piece of scrap paper to create elements of central shape. Glue around the central shape. Layer these new shapes to create the effect of a mola.

Cuna Art PowerPoint

 

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