August 8, 2009

Mola Mania on Etsy!

by Rachel Biel Taibi

HeART of Healing Gallery has been buying molas, molas, and more molas! As the collection and selection has grown, we have begun to list ones that we find especially interesting in our Etsy store. Molas are the Kunas way of telling and documenting their stories. Some are obvious and reflect the tropical paradise they live in. Others may refer to their daily life, to images they see in printed media, and to commentaries on people outside their community. The molas below are some of the new ones we have just listed. Click on the images for larger photos and you can see details in the Etsy listings.

Chicha is a form of brew made out of sugar cane. This mola shows a couple of women and men fanning the fires and smoking their pipes as they wait for the brew to do its thing.
Kuna mola, "Making Chicha"

The Kuna come out of an animist tradition where Nature is central. They have an extensive mythology and are one of the few Central American indigenous groups who have maintained their culture. Many have, however, converted to Christianity, although many of the converts practice a syncretism form incorporating Christian stories into their own world view. The mola below, of Jesus on the cross, is interesting in its tone. Everybody looks happy, smiling away. Quite the contrast to the gorey crucifix we normally see in Roman Catholicism.

Kuna mola: Jesus on the cross.

Vultures normally do not get a good rap in the bird world, yet this mola maker succeeded in giving these birds some dignity. They are not the most beautiful birds in the world, yet they serve an important function in keeping disease at bay by cleaning carcasses that have met their natural or untimely deaths. The birds are sadly disappearing around the world and nobody really knows why. Zoroastrians are especially disheartened as they still choose to offer the remains of their dead to these birds as a cleansing ritual. (Zoroastrian funerals)
Kuna Mola: Two Elegant Vultures

Worms! What to say about them? I found a couple of references online that touched on Kuna mythology indicating that worms represented penises, thus life and fecundity, especially in the context of creation. A Unesco report mentioned that worms are very important to the Kuna because they are used as bait to fish. Any gardener will know how worms are essential to fertile soil. The composition in this mola is especially nice and does speak to embrionic states.

Kuna mola: Worms, fertility and bait

And, of course there are the molas that just celebrate nature, especially birds and flowers. This cardinal mola is absolutely stunning. The colors are bold and contrast well with each other and the lines are fluid and elegant. Truly a beauty!
Kuna Mola: Two Cardinals

All of these molas are exceptional in their stitching and embroidery. Tiny, even spacing and excellent composition. Visit our store on Etsy as we continue to add more of these specatcular beauties!

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