Links of the site are right at the bottom of the page)
The links for the 22 pages in this Tools & Crafts section
Question on Beaded Belt and Symbols.
I keep seeing a Beaded Belt of shell beads; first on a guide,
on a table, and in air amongst other places. The belt I see
is about five to six feet in length and about three inches in
width. It is meant I believe to be worn over a shoulder or place
in front of one in prayer. The belt is white to off white beaded
shells with a design in a light shade of purple. In the center,
if looking at it spread out length wise, is a diamond shaped
pattern. This would sit on top of the shoulder. There is a 4
to inch space followed by two lines across the width on either
side of the diamond pattern. There is another short space about
3 inches followed by triple triangles; the base of which lies
horizontal to the two rows of bead and perpendicular to the
length. The points of the triangle are touching the base of
the next in its center. The points of the triangle face the
extremes of the belt or downward on both sides of the shoulder
if it were to be worn. This pattern of three triangles is on
both sides of the double rows of beads and is again followed
by a 3" space and a double row of beads. On the remainder
of the length after a space at the beginning and the end is
a single line centered in the middle and about 9" length
and is repeated on both sides. The remainder of the length on
either end is white to off white shell beads and all designs
are observed from beads made of a light purple. There is some
type of beading in the same white shells that forms an open
curve finishing each end.
If anyone has any general knowledge
about Beaded Belts, the symbols, and your thoughts on the appropriateness
of making one, I would appreciate it if you could share the
knowledge or thoughts. Most things on the web seem to discuss
wampum belts as contracts but this doesn't seem to carry the
same feeling it seem more personal and there is not much about
the spiritual aspects of Beaded Belts.
Fascinating, EW. All the
beadwork knowledge I have is African and although some portions
of this sound familiar it's not enough to feel right. You don't
have any feeling where in the world this design comes from?
No idea either, except
in blanket weavings and quilting, those symbols do mean things,
I'm just not up on bead symbols... except perhaps the shell
beads need a bit of defining, please? Are they mother of pearl
flats or rounds? Or are they like Pooka shells where the whole
shell is the bead? The only thing I can suggest is to look at
Pueblo (Navajo, specifically) blanket weaving patterns. Might
also look at Zapotek patterns.
Earthwalker, I'm not familar
with the design you describe although I have been beading for
many years. In fact it was my grandmother who taught me each
bead sewn or strung is a prayer, so the wearer carries with
them many prayers. There is such a variance on beading it can
be difficult interpret a particular pattern especially if it
is meant as a personal "gift." Interestingly enough,
some of the patterns I've created, have come to me in dream
time. I hope you are able to create this beautiful image I have
of what you described.
Hello Earthwalker, Belts,
as a rule, are worn by women as a shield. Men tend to make shields
and put them on poles outside their lodges but the women bead
belts instead and wear those. The symbols on the belts are the
symbols of their Medicine. So what these symbols represent to
you are going to be in some way reflecting your own abilities
and knowledge. Certainly if you are being shown a belt like
this it would be appropriate for you to make your own. I've
not heard of them being worn over the shoulder as you describe
however that's not to say they couldn't be. I've just never
seen it. The fact that shells are incorporated in the patterns
may reflect a coastal tribe that would be near water where shells
could be found. Often they are used as smudge bowls, and in
relation to Water Medicine or the Earth Mother. If you feel
this is a Prayer Belt you may want to use it in such a way and
as Lotus indicated, often the beading is done with many prayers
attached to it. No NA craft is taken on simply for pleasure
when it comes to the costume or tool aspects. They are always
prepared in a sacred manner. White is sacred, purple is often
used to represent the passion of the spirit. The diamond shaped
pattern would be significant to you, but from our Symbology
Library we have this information:
The diamond is the lasting
symbol of purity and incorruptibility, due to its form in nature
as a stone that cuts all but cannot be cut itself. This interpretation,
however, most likely came as a result of the "drawn"
diamond, which represents two triangles joined at the base.
The two triangles represent Man (downright) and the Universe
(upright), or the Microcosm and the Macrocosm, emanating from
God. The symbol reminds us that Man is within the Universe and
the Universe is within Man; the goal is to unite the two such
that they become inexorably linked -- one whole, which is to
say, God. Adopted by mystics and alchemists as the symbol of
achievement -- or perfection -- it came to represent what was
believed to be the lifestyle necessary to achieve such a level
of Unity: One that was both pure and uncorrupted. From there
arose the notion that a stone with similar qualities must be
the very physical embodiment of the drawn Diamond. The symbol
reminds us that we must travel through the Tree of Life to become
reunited with the Kether (the crown or God).
As for the 4 to inch space followed
by two lines across the width on either side of the diamond
pattern. Where you find two lines you find two worlds...physical
and spiritual, or again it could be the symbol of water if they
are wavy. The triple triangles probably represent the Trinity
in some form. As well they represent the emotions: intuition,
feelings, desires and impulses; love, passion, and friendship;
love of family, friends and groups; love of arts, crafting,
and creating. The double rows of beading most likely indicate
breaks in the shield itself...different statements between them.
You mentioned that at the beginning and the end is a single
line centered in the middle and about 9" length and is
repeated on both sides. I would think this would represent the
path walked. As for the beading in the white shells that forms
an arched finish to the ends, that could be the Moon or Bridge
to Spirit in some way and again, I can only stress that what
the symbols say to you would be above and beyond the general
symbology. If this triggers recognition
for you then you will have an inner sense of it, a knowing what's
right or doesn't quite fit. Hope it's helped a little.
I remember reading somewhere
that triangles pointing down were an ancient symbol for Mother
Earth. Tripling them would accent their feminine energy, perhaps,
as Cinn suggested representing a Trinity of sorts...maybe Maiden,
Mother, Crone? It may be a Prayer belt...I'm not really familiar
with them. But your description of possibly being worn on the
shoulder gives me the feeling that it may be a symbol of initiation,
much like a minister or deacon wears a stole signifying ordination.
Coupling the diamond, as Cinn describes it as a symbol of Unity,
and the triangles as a symbol of the Feminine Trinity, seems
to fit this, to me. Also, the shells then would add to the Feminine
Mother Earth energy. Seems a powerful symbol for an Earthwalker
initiate! But, as Cinn said, your own interpretation is what
matters here! These were just my thoughts.
Two Crow, No I don't have
any idea where this design comes from. The diamond shape has
the meaning of union to me but i wasn't sure of it in this case
nor do I know what the remainder of the design means. I have
not known nor can I find something like it in any of the books
I have seen nor on the web so far. I have seen the triangle
pattern on a male NA guide where it was woven into a shirt at
the shoulder and came down the shirt to the hem. The color in
this case was white and blue. I was just hoping it was a common
design and someone could explain it. like the meaning to a song
I have been given at times one just finds the answer. Thanks
for sharing your thoughts.
Treasa, I will look and have looked
at the Navaho designs and havent found an answer yet .
However I will continue to look and will look at the zapotek
designs as well. The beads are slightly elongated and although
white and light purple are variegated in color. much like mother
of pearl but they are beads not whole shells. I actually found
a websites that has ones made to look like the shelled beads
since they are prohibitively expensive. Thank you for the suggestions.
Lotus, Thank you Lotus is does feel
like it is something that should be made in a sacred fashion
and it seems that it wouldn't be upsetting if I pursued making
this. I have never done beading but would probably use as the
twine a natural jute twine. I found shell like beads similar
to these made from the Quoque. The purple is darker than I normally
see but it may be as close as I can find. It seems to me to
be a good project to work on during the winter sitting by the
fire and is easily picked up and put away during busy work weeks.
I think it would also keep idle hands busy while journeying.
Some day if I ever retire, I will
attempt to paint some of what I seen as well but the time is
not right as of yet. When I lived in NYC before my children
were born I studies Batik painting with Joytrindra Roy. I love
the technique and his works. His works were shown in the Met
in NYC. He went back to New Deli, India to run an art museum.
My favorite work was one of the Ascetic Beatles (wandering spiritual
musicians of India). He was a very special man and as we all
sat, painting wax on cloth, on the floor of his studio we all
knew then without words that each brush stroke somehow had special
meaning as well. We were sharing different cultures through
a universal art form. I think beading is something that can
more easily be worked into
daily life than batik painting and look forward to it as long
as I am not breaking any taboos. If that was the case I would
just keep it in mind. I am glad you have received patterns in
the dream times as well. and am looking forwards to the longer
nights to initiate this project. The design I have seen is fairly
simple so it shouldn't be too hard to recreate for a beginner.
Simplicity or abstraction is something I do appreciate and is
common to all that I have seen. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
Do you have any pictures you might want to share of your work.
I know I would love to see them. What colors do you usually
see in dreams for your bead work? Thank you for sharing your
grandmothers teaching that each bead is a prayer. To make a
belt using 0.5mm by 0.3mm beads if I calculate correctly would
require about 3000 beads. I would wonder if Spirit would be
sick of me if each bead was a prayer; may be an offering for
balance and union of earth would be appropriate. It seems the
softness of the colors represent a blending towards unions and
there is balance in the overall design as well. Thank you!!
Cinnamon and Stardreamer, I think
there is a lot to digest in your comments so I cannot comment
extensively. I never thought of the belt as a shield which does
makes sense. The division as represented by the two lines (non-wavy)
also makes sense as it show a times where there was separation
from unity in terms of the physical and spiritual paths. IN
order to understand one must move through opposites. Movement
seems indicative of the triangles and Stardreamer it could be
through equal stages of life (child adult, elder) or through
the trinity ( unseen, seen and communication between) and possibly
both one representing the physical stage and the other representing
the spiritual phases. It suggests that all paths are sacred
(white back ground), shows balance of the two, and the eventual
union of the two even through separation was needed to yield
a singular path of union. I think it interesting whenever I
see this pattern usually woven male guide the colors are white
with burgundy and blue patterns; yet, on the belt I see purple
( balance of blue and burgundy). I therein do think this is
about balancing and blending two to one. Possibly a union of
the blue road and red road??? Thank you both for shining light
on this project.
The Wisdom of Flying Geese
In the Spring, when you see geese heading North for the Summer
or South in the Fall, flying along in "V" formation,
you might be interested in knowing what scientists have discovered
about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each
bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately
following. By flying in "V " formation, the whole
flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird
flew on its own.
Basic Truth #1-
People who share a common direction and sense of community can
get where they are going quicker and easier because they are
traveling on the thrust of one another. Whenever a goose falls
out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance
of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation
to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately
Basic Truth #2-
If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation
with those who are heading in the same as we are. When the lead
goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose
flies point. Basic Truth #3- It pays to take turns doing hard
jobs, with people or with flying geese. These geese honk from
behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Basic
Truth #4- We need to be careful what we say when we honk from
behind. Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshot,
and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him
down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is
either able to fly or until he is dead, and then they launch
out on their own or with another formation until they catch
up with their group. Final Truth- If we have the sense of a
goose, we will stand by each other, protect one another and
sometimes make new friends who seem to be going in our direction.
Author unknown www.noogenesis.com/pineapple/geese.html FlyingGeeseBlock.html
Amish Diamond The Center Square, Bars, and Diamond in the Square
designs were the most common in the early Lancaster Amish quilts.
The Diamond in the Square pattern was also known as "halstuch."
It seems the border triangles reminded Amish women of the shoulder
cape worn over their dresses (halstuch) which has a triangle
shape in the back where it is fastened.
(just a couple quilt related symbologies for you)
Diane, Sounds Like Wampum
beads which are made from Quahog shells. The pattern I am not
familiar with but it vaguely sounds Mohawk/Iroquios. I don't
possess any Mohawk patterns Myself but if you are ever down
in the Whinchdon mass area, stop by "SilverHawk" at
the junction of 140 and 12. They deal very heavily in wampum
belts and might be able to help you out. I can't think of their
website right now. But I think it is "Wampumworks"
They do carry Glass wampum, (imitation)
of course and they are a lot cheaper. There are other places
that carry real wampum, might be a little cheaper but not by
much. My thought was that they might be able to tell you what
kind of pattern your describing. Working with Wampum is not
easy especially the glass wampum because it cuts the Sinew.
Have to be extremely careful and learn how to do quick repair
and damage control when beading. End product is always nice
though. Remember, when beading, each bead is a prayer!...
Jimmy, Thank you for the
information. I'll need to take a ride down there; according
to map quest it's only about 60 miles from home. Their jewelry
looks absolutely beautiful and the free form shells are interesting.
To be honest though the quohog shell beads are $2- 5 a piece
and if I need 2-3 thousand beads; well, it would not be affordable.
It is amazing what went into creating these beads. It is n wonder
why wampum is so precious. They had some great chili and chowder
recipes for quahog as well. Might try them as well but shell
fish in VT isn't the same as fresh from the sea. I did find
some imitation beads that look similar.//home.cshore.com/waaban/wampum.html.
The sight is in Connecticut. Have you ever used this place?
Since this will be my first attempt at beading it might be a
good staring place. I will look at Mohawk designs. Thank you
for the direction.
Thersa, Thank you for your thoughts
on the designs. The triangle seem to envelop movements. I will
need to look at the Amish designs as well but I don't think
it is Amish. The designs I have seen when I lived in Pennsylvania
have a different feel to them than do these designs. to me the
Amish designs fell fanciful and cute. These designs are very
plain and simple but somehow have a more subtle or expansive
feel to them. I cannot put it in better words than that. Thank
you for sharing your thoughts.
Earthwalker, I will take
some pictures to share. I love to bead and as well as being
a creative craft, I consider it a spiritual exercise. I find
myself transcended, much like a meditational experience and
Native American beading techniques are my favorites.
Batik painting with Joytrindra
Roy I have never tried Batik painting but have seen the work
of others, incredibly beautiful and very soul stirring. In particular,
the veining that appears throughout the design unifying colors
and composition catches my eye. It's a wonderful medium
Earthwalker and I wish you much joy and success in following
this craft when the time is right.
Jimmy, I will remember.
Mohawk designs do feel familiar. Then again I grew up in the
Mohawk Valley in NY. When I go down to the store I will take
the design and see if they can correlate any of this design
to known ones. The triple triangles did remind me of the Great
Tree of Life design but much smaller and I cannot indicate why
they would run in opposite direction except that the next stage
is one path. I am sure understanding will come in time. Thanks
for all of the help. As you and Lotus both mentioned, I like
the fact that each bead is representative of a prayer, but then
again I question. Isn't all of life a prayer? Does there need
to be a disassociation between life and spirit for there to
Lotus, Thank you for sharing your
beading pictures. You are so talented in these crafts. I loved
the circular (rosetta) patterns as well; they are so intricate.
For now though. I think a simple design is about all I would
want to tackle. Therein my draw more or less to wampum, I think.
It didn't click until this
morning but Triangles for some of the eastern tribes represent
mountains and mountains represent the Sacredness or Respect
for the Ancients or ancient ways. I have a beaded Tobacco pouch
with this symbol on it. it is not a complete triangle. It is
a Mi'kmaq pattern that represents "One who respects the
Ancients " Some of the Iroquios nation has the triangle,
2 small, 1 large, 2 small, representing the Iroquios Confederacy
of 5 Nations. The Mohawk, Seneca, Cayuga (sp) Onandaga and I
am sorry but the last one escapes me.
That belt was carried to Counsel
signifying the Confederacy. Back then it was made with Real
Wampum. Today, copies are made with the Glass wampum. Other
Belts where made as "Story Belts" or belts that kept
a record of ones life time achievements. Example would
be, Birth, first hunt, marriage, birth of a child and so on.
I know Silver Hawk has or had a few of these for sale that not
many could afford but beautifully made. Hope that helps,
Bear, Thank you. I look
forward to seeing belts.
LOL Thank you!
Earthwalker, I added a photo of the type of thing you are
talking about to the top of the page above. These can be called
sashes or bandoliers, as well as belts. They are longer than
a belt that goes around the waist. Some are beaded and others
Copyright: Cinnamon Moon & River WildFire Moon (Founders.)
All rights reserved.
constructed by Dragonfly