Monster with a Dying Bird
'Monster with a Dying Bird'
cloth and thread
13 x 15.5 ins.
This is an unusually tense and dramatic subject for a mola, showing a very sick bird in the clutches of a huge, white-clawed monster. The monster is a devil-spirit that captures men's souls and causes illness, and the bird (a Purba or spirit bird) is a symbol of the soul of a sick Kuna. This mola is said to represent the 'Chant of the Demon', recited during the curing rituals. During the chant the Nele, aided by the spirits of wooden nuchu figurines, travels to free the spirit from the grasp of the demon or ‘nia’. In this case, sadly, the chants failed to work and the patient died. Poignantly, it is the artist who created this mola who is depicted as the dying spirit bird. The previous owner reported that the mola was sold to help pay for the hospital bills.
Kit Capp acquired a very similar 'Nia mola' in the 1960s, showing that this is a long-standing, traditional design.