Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Nested Cats

Dulemola Humidification.jpg
Dulemola Flattening.jpg


Dulemola (Blouse Panel) with Nested Cats


Multiple cats can be seen in this ingenious dulemola composition — two smaller ones in profile nestled within the overall orange outline of a larger third one in the center. In another reading, the larger cat could be seen frontally with its tail “split” into two kittens. Many different, and even conflicting interpretations are possible, a basic characteristic of dulemolaguna in which lines and colors create complicated perceptual situations.

The thin lines cut throughout the background provide another shifting perceptual field. As in many blouse panels, the artist has inserted various pieces of colored cotton between the top cloth and the bottom one, but in this piece the colors do not necessarily exactly correspond to the openings. For example, in the top left, white and light blue coexist in the second column; moving left to right, pink and light yellow, then light yellow and blue. This further distracts the viewer’s attention via the subtle disjunction between the coherent lozenge shapes and the shifting color changes.

Geographic Area

Central America, Guna Yala (San Blas Islands/North Coast of Panamá)




Late 20th century



Credit Line

Anonymous gift

Accession Number


Photo Credit

Photo by Bruce M. White, 2012

Technical Notes

Like many of the dulemola panels, this one with nested cats was creased along the edges from having been folded and/or hemmed. A cool-mist ultrasonic humidifier was used to introduce enough moisture to make the textile fibers more supple, enabling the folds to relax. The layers of fabric were then gently flattened by hand, covered with blotter paper to absorb excess moisture, and allowed to dry under weights.

For more conservation information, please see The Threads of Time Conservation Project.

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