bagua, a symbol used in Taoist cosmology, so probably Chinese. I have some similar pieces of shibori that are of Chinese origin, and the work is very fine, although I suspect that it is produced for commercial purposes. My cynicism makes even me wince, so if someone has more information, please, I welcome it.
Sheila Paine, who taught me much of what I know.
I found the estate sale deeply affecting. An artist, a single woman with only one surviving relative died, leaving the most fabulous collection of art supplies, cloth, photographs, paintings, hats, books upon books upon books.... She had expensive, and exquisite, taste. Looking at what her executor was trying to dispose of felt like being a witness to the evidence of a wonderful life. I never knew her, but some who were at the sale did, and they commented on her passion for beauty, and fashion, and art.
I couldn't help but thinking "This is what might happen to me". I will go, and the things that meant so much to me will be sold at 10 cents on the dollar. Or not at all. I voiced this thought to another woman who was there, and she said, "Me too, me too." What is the value of our stuff, or maybe the question is "Where does the value come into it?" I've always thought my stash held my dreams, my ideas, my ambition, my possibilities. The stuff, without us, is just stuff.
But somehow, we gleaners who were picking over the earthly remains of a person's creative life, recognized the life force the objects still contained. I'm sure I was not the only one who felt that it was a duty, an honour to take these materials and carry them forward. I came away from the sale with far more things than I needed, or know what I will do with. I trust that inspiration will arise, but at the same time am aware that this stuff may bind me, weigh on me. The energy that drew me to it is mutable, can change, can be a yoke or a burden.
This may well be the flakiest thing I have ever said in public, but I believe that our job as artists is to be conduits for the great mystery, what I call the divine. I'm not talking any particular philosophy or faith here. Somehow this post, intended to be simply about a piece of cloth has led me to think about what might be beyond a simple piece of cloth. I will never know the circumstances in which this cloth was created, and bought, or what it might have meant to the owner. But it called to me.
Maybe I'm not so cynical after all.