Abstract Animals, Birds, and Insects

The rich wildlife of San Blas has been a major source of artistic expression of the Guna for centuries. Exotic birds from their jungle, insects, fish and other marine life are all popular themes for mola artists.
Abstract octopi

Abstract - Octopi [1997.1.8]

While this mola looks at first to be completely abstract, a closer study shows it could possibly be a pair of octopi. It is interesting that around the sea forms there is the traditional one color, but within the forms are triangles of many colors. The stitching is fine and the reverse of the mola is done with extreme care.

Abstract Birds [1997.1.15]

This abstract design of birds seems at first glance to have only an orange background and a red foreground, but note the purplish fabric between the two colors. The two larger birds have their wings raised in flight and seem to be feeding the smaller baby bird.


Repeat Pattern: Cat-Like Animal [1997.1.79]

This is a repeat pattern animal design with a black foreground and orange as the predominant color. It appears to be a cat like creature that is climbing a tree.


Pelicans Feeding on Frogs and Fish [1997.1.106]

There is crudeness in the way the patterns are cut out and in the stitching which is typical of the molas from earlier years. Even though the sewing and cutting is crude the overall quality of the mola has unity and is done with care in one style. The mola probably dates from the 1950s or 60s.


Bird Catching a Snake [1997.1.117]

This mola shows a bird catching a snake. The mola-maker used a crosshatching technique. Although it is simple, the colors are well coordinated to be striking from a distance.


Turtle Forms [1997.1.69]

The mola shows two main forms suggestive of turtles with some smaller turtles. Surprisingly some vivid patches of color were added later, which seem to interrupt the overall pattern. Usually, Guna women have a sense of overall pattern, so it’s indeed surprising to see this in a mola.


Abstract - Spider Web [1997.1.56]

This is a small mola indicating that it was probably from the 1970s. It could possibly be a spider web because there are many similar mola variations with a spider in the center.
Bird pattern

Repeat Pattern of Small Birds [1997.1.63]

This mola has a repeat pattern of small birds. A young girl might have done this mola.


A Six-Headed Dragon [1997.1.167]

This mola shows an interesting six-headed dragon with fine workmanship. It is interesting to note the unusual shapes that fill in the background; little crosses or abstract floral rather than the more typical stripes or dots.


Two Kangaroos [1997.1.176]

This design was likely based on a newspaper advertisement for a clothing store. It shows two kangaroos each with a baby in their pouches. One of the kangaroos is wearing a tie and there is a little figure with its hands raised in the middle. The lettering is unusual. It says, “Estos fuera de moda ahora los posilos,” and then there is a world that cannot be translated, and then it ends with, “aqui.” This translates as, “these went out of fashion, now the pockets (blank) here.” It would indicate the pocket placed high up perhaps went out of fashion and is now found lower or vice versa.

Abstract insect

Abstract - Insect or Butterfly [1997.1.37]

This abstract form is based on an insect design, perhaps a butterfly. Sometimes older Guna women, who no longer have very good eyesight, sew molas using an old style, but with less fine stitching. Although workmanship is important, in a case like this, it is a mola that when viewed from afar is absolutely a stunner.