I saw my first molas in 1977, when I lived and worked briefly in New Orleans. I used to go down to the Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter of a morning for chicory coffee and beignets, and one day I ran into a young guy who'd just returned from several months in the San Blas islands, off the coast of Panama, with a huge assortment of these colorful fabric artworks, handmade by women of the Kuna Indian tribe. I bought two of them (for an absurdly low price; this was before they became popular in the US), but left one with Lydia when we got divorced and lost the other in my move from Germany back to the US.

In the mid-'90s, I attended a college-journalism conference in San Francisco and bought the piece illustrated here at a folk-art shop in Ghirardelli Square. (The shop's gone now, alas.) The image only shows the left half of it, since the whole thing was too big to fit my scanner. If you want to see the rest, you'll have to come to my house, where it's framed and hanging in my living room.

If you want to see more molas, there are quite a few images — plus some background information — here.

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