Central America, Panama, San Blas Islands, Kuna/Cuna, ca. 1950 CE. A finely crafted example of this folk art form created by the Kuna / Cuna Native American women artisans of Panama, and from the world's finest collection of molas, rare for its unusual iconography that depicts a musician playing among the wildlife found in this remote part of the world. The musician is playing a flute while sititng on the back of a large lizard or crocodile who looks over its back in amazement - letters written (many incorrectly oriented) on the side of the saurian. This mola makes me think that this would be what music might look like if it were a visual art form. Size: 21" W x 18" H (53.3 cm x 45.7 cm)
We are honored to present a selection of molas from the important Kit Kapp collection. According to Tom Hannaher in his text from a debut exhibition of Kuna Molas from the Kit Kapp collection, "Between 1963 and 1971, Kitt Kapp and his wife Valerie conducted over 35 expeditions of the San Blas Islands, as well as remote Kuna villages in Colombia and along the Bayano River in the Darien Peninsula of Panama. Kit's book, Mola Art of the San Blas Islands, was one of the first publications to treat molas as an art form." (Molas from the Collection of Kit Kapp," by Tom Hannaher, 2008)
The folk craft of creating molas began about 125 years ago when the Kunas moved from the mainland to the islands. In their new environment, cooler nights necessitated warmer clothing. At first, women created blouses adorned with simple applique borders, but as time went on, they increased the scale of the decorative areas until the entire front and back panels were comprised of multi-layered, quilted textile designs. This distinctive art form has evolved into a tradition of exceptionally fine needlework and meaningful symbolism.
Provenance: Ex-Private Santa Fe, NM collection of Kit Kapp
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