Mola Me - Caribbean Sea by F.A. Moore

Currently unavailable for purchase

Oil Painting on canvas
20 × 20 in.
(updated with Caribbean Sea backdrop, April 23, 2013)

The Caribbean Sea and San Blas Islands, off of Panama, form the backdrop for a surreal scene, where a native Kuna girl rides the back of a “piglet” mola that she has crafted.

This central and lower part of the work is painted to look like a Mola— a textile craft, specific to the Kuna tribe in Central America. A Kuna girl is traveling across the island, in a dream, on the back of her creation, with her parrot, as her sidekick.

Mola’s are hand sewn decorative items, traditionally panels sewn into a blouse; but now also sold to collectors. They are made from several layers of solid colored, cotton fabric, cut to various depths, folded back, and sewn down, to reveal color from underneath and to create shapes, in the method of reverse appliqué.

The designs are generally something from the everyday life of the Kuna people: turtles, pot bellied pigs, fish, flowers, etc., and filled, otherwise, with maze-like geometric patterns. The rectangular Molas, traditionally, are sewn into blouses and worn by the Kuna women, before the garments are taken apart, washed, and the beautiful panels sold to tourists.

Collectors have been interested in Molas primarily since the 1970’s. Tourism has become an ever-important part of the culture, especially after the 1989 removal of Manuel Noriega from power in Panama. Once Panama resumed its place as a world finance center, and tourism there rebounded, more travelers learned of the native Kuna (aka “Cuna”) culture on the Archipelago, off the coast of Panama.

The Kuna bucked the Panamanian government in 1925, when Panama ruled that they could no longer wear traditional dress or practice their religion. The Caribbean, San Blas Island natives have remained semi-autonomous to this day. They speak their own language, Kuna, although often men also speak Spanish, as they make the trip to Panama City, Panama to trade.

Note. Started in October, 2012, this work was posted (version 1) January 31, 2012, with an abstract curtain of (palm) leaves at the top. Updated in early April, once, the recent update was completed with the Caribbean Sea as the backdrop, April 23, 2013.

Kuna woman with Molas
photo by Ian Cameron Smith , cc

2013-04-28 version 3 in Women Painters
2013-04-25 version 3 in Southern United States Artists
2013-03-17 version 1 in Women Painters


  • Bunny Clarke
    Bunny Clarkeabout 2 years ago

    Gorgeous work Frannie. I like the patterns and colors in this.

  • Thanks, Bunny. The patterns and colors are the kinds of things you might see in a Mola, although I might have packed a few more into the scene. :))

    – F.A. Moore

  • Keith Reesor
    Keith Reesorabout 2 years ago

    Delightful Frannie!! :)

  • Appreciate it, Keith!

    – F.A. Moore

  • Elisabeth Dubois
    Elisabeth Duboisabout 2 years ago

    No, I think the colours are great. nice work Frannie

  • Hi, Elisabeth! It’s a really lively painting, which is kind of fun. Thanks for stopping in!

    – F.A. Moore

  • Madalena Lobao-Tello
    Madalena Lobao...about 2 years ago

    Wow Frannie!!
    It is really fantastic!! Very well done!

  • Mada, I’m so pleased that you like it. I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

    – F.A. Moore

  • helene ruiz
    helene ruizabout 2 years ago

    love it!

  • Helene, so good to hear from you. Remember when you had the exhibition which featured works about the Latin culture? This was the work I started then; but just couldn’t finish in time, due to the events already swirling around my schedule. It feels good to have the finishing touches done.

    – F.A. Moore

  • Jim Phillips
    Jim Phillipsabout 2 years ago

    Wonderful colors Frannie. Like the primative island feel to it.

  • Thanks, Jim; I’m glad to have captured that. :)

    – F.A. Moore

  • I’ve completely updated this, Jim. Thanks.

    – F.A. Moore

  • Linda Ridpath
    Linda Ridpathabout 2 years ago

    Fascinating work frannie, love your colours they are so pure and simple, really gives a flavour tribal art! x

  • Linda, what a wonderful compliment, as my goal was to pay tribute to this unique art and craft form that developed from their tribal body art, and clothing. Thanks! more about molas

    – F.A. Moore

  • annacuypers
    annacuypersabout 2 years ago

    Wonderful work Frannie, a happy feeling, beautiful colors, love, xxo

  • Makes me happy, too, Anna. Thank you for your beautiful words!

    – F.A. Moore

  • laureen warrington
    laureen warrin...about 2 years ago

    Joyous and much fun !

  • So nice to hear from you, Laureen. Thanks!

    – F.A. Moore

  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelabout 2 years ago

    Great colors, love her expression!

  • Thanks, Cindy, very much. I may tweak it here and there; you know how that is. I like the colors, too.

    – F.A. Moore

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