Help interpreting 1960's spacecraft iconography in a Kuna/Guna mola
April 8, 2015 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Kuna/Guna women in Panama make beautiful applique textiles, called molas, to decorate the front and back of their blouses: info. on molas. Inspiration for the mola designs can come from the natural world, national symbols, religion, or popular culture (in other words, you can find everything from plants to Tony the Tiger). I'm trying to better interpret the design on one particular mola; here is its information and photo. It came into the museum new in early 1968, which would be not long before the Apollo 8 mission that orbited the moon. At the top of the mola, it says, in Spanish, Los Rusos (the Russians) ep and vehiculo (vehicle). The spacecraft on the right has the words United States on it, and my interpretation of it would be that it may represent an Apollo Lunar Module (LM). The spacecraft on the left is the one I'm having more issues identifying, and am wondering if it could be a Russian Soyuz, or U.S. Apollo Command Module, or??? Any thoughts on identification would be appreciated.
posted by gudrun to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I bet its the Lunar Lander + the command module.

Why it says Russian and USA... well... translation errors, starting to mola one picture then switching to another, or just generally being confused, maybe?

There was spacecraft docking in the 60's, but no US-Soviet ones till the 70's

And no space stations till the 80's.
posted by Jacen at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's a collection of molas at the Hudson Museum at UMaine and in one of their collection books, there's also some space-associated, 1960s era molas (HM8712 and HM8743). The collections people there may have more information.

(Sorry, you may already know of this collection)
posted by hydrobatidae at 11:22 AM on April 8, 2015

It could represent one of the Russian uncrewed robotic landers from the Luna program.

For example, this is a photo of Luna 13 which landed on the moon in Dec 1966.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:39 PM on April 8, 2015

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but coming back to add a detail. Luna is an interesting thought, and I will keep that in mind, but the spacecraft on the left has what seems to be a representation of a human figure inside. While I think the interpretations of the woman who made the mola could indeed be confused, to me that makes it a bit more difficult to definitively call it a Luna lander.
posted by gudrun at 1:22 PM on April 8, 2015

Best answer: I wonder if it could be a Voskhod module? That's what it immediately reminded me of.
posted by thegears at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2015

It looks like it says "Los Rusos EPJ....vehiculo." Could "EPJ" be a Spanish-language abbreviation for some kind of Russian spacecraft name? Like LM (Lunar Module)? (I do not know Spanish or Russian spacecraft well enough to guess at what this abbreviation could be).
posted by holyrood at 2:39 PM on April 8, 2015

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