From the Harvard Natural History Museum it is only a few steps to the entrance of the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. The entrance was unassuming, and if I didn’t actively look for it I would have missed it.
The door was somewhat misleading – I usually inform myself what I might find on display but this time I entered without preconceived ideas or expectations.
The Arts of War exhibit drew us in, and we explored various body armor from the Alaskan tribes to the Gilbert Islands.
This fine specimen of armor was made from Coconut fiber, complete with a pufferfish helmet. It came from the Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific…
…and a gauntlet studded with shark’s teeth demand a wide berth if encountered in its native setting!
The Meso-American exhibition hall followed and it was here that I was drawn in immediately!
Only last week I welcomed 25 participants to my Mola workshop in Manchester at World Quilt. It was my turn to be mesmerized and admire several authentic and very intricate Molas from the San Blas Islands. This Mola is from Rio Sidra Island. The age was not provided.
Another fascinating Mola, also from Rio Sidra Island, made by an unknown maker, the year was not provided.
This Mola stems from Cari Mulatupti Island, one of the 50 islands populated by the Kuna Indians. The year it was made was not disclosed.
This Mola example was less intricate but I believe that it was the most historic Mola on display. Note the less detailed reverse applique sections, a wonderful example of balancing positive and negative space.
The larger display case featured an actual blouse, showcasing the Mola panel as it is situated in the traditional Kuna garment.
“Molas are women’s visual claim to knowledge of other cultures – a parallel to knowing languages.” (Quote from one of the information panels in the showcases)
I feel fortunate to have “stumbled across” this informative exhibition. Already I have added information to my existing Mola portfolio. A special message to anyone who attended my workshop in Manchester: If you live close enough to Boston to visit the Peabody, I highly encourage you and I strongly recommend it!. While it is not a workshop, this display has a lot of background information to support the material presented in class last week.
Oh, those molas are so beautiful Anna. A visit to Boston is on my bucket list.
Beautiful! Such skill and artistry.
Isn’t it, Helene? Just made my fingers itch to pull out fabric and thread!
We had the good fortune to stop at the San Blas Island on our Panama cruise about 7 years ago. It was amazing…all the streets were lined with molas, naturally I bought a few. My husband favoured the new versions, we bought a turtle but I did get a few traditional ones. It was one of the highlights of our trip.
Patsy, a trip to Panama is on my list of things to do!