|The loom was now ready. It only needed me to get initiated.
The ceremonial elder had arrived. Everyone was wearing their ritual clothing: I wore a cloth around my hips and one around my bust. The men wore cloths tied at the hips, for ones shoulders must remain bare.
The priest invoked the ancestors through to the divinities. He thanked the divinities for having transmitted the art of weaving to mankind by reciting the ritual formulas, offering gifts, sacrificing the two hens and offering the blood to the ancestrial alter.
The Ewe culture hold that for each human trade a bond is formed between the living and the dead. By perpetuating the art it is believed that life is given back to those who preceeded us.
|The moment had finally arrived for the weaving to begin, but I got my menstrual cyclequite incompatible! I had read that it is the reason women have been traditionally excluded from weaving within the Ewe and Ashanti populations.
After reading a short essay found in the Centers library discussing the taboos tied to menstruation, I consulted Dale Massiasta, the head of the Center. I was duly shown a tree. Luciano had to pick the leaves off of this tree, place them in water and prepare a purifying wash.
To my great embarrassment not less than ten people saw me going back and forth to the bath corner with leaves and towels.
When offered to visit a fellow weaver at a neighbouring village, Avlorto, the following day I was more than relieved. I continued nonetheless to use the leaves, a pleasant ritual and no doubt beneficial.
Unfortunatelly I have not recorded the tree's name. It's a common plant, sometimes used by weavrs to build their loom. Left: a weaver from the Avlorto village, his loom has rooted and shades and refreshes his work
|The climate was hot and humid, my loom was shaded and work was quite nice and pleasant.
After an hours work, I realized that the movements had started to flow.
I wasnt as fast, and never will be as fast as my instructor, Robert. Neither did I have his elegance and my selvages were uneven, but I was improving. I had to be careful to pass the warp through an eight passage sequence. Sometimes I got confused and had to turn back, but I always had someone by my side observing me and ready to correct me.
Many people were coming into the courtyard, observing me with interest, commenting and offering advice. I really had one instructor and ten assistants!
I noticed my loom creating a lot of interest, especially coming from the younger observers. Everytime I was tired and got up somebody would take the opportunity to sit and weave for awhile. So my fabric became a sort of collective masterpiece.
Soon the fabric was finished, so I decided to endeavor a second, more complex project.
|Luciano was carrying out two projects. Together with those present he was organizing a museum collection naming samples, contacting designers and creating a data base using an old portable computer.
The original pieces are presently in Klikor, but they are visible at http://www.hypertextile.net/AFEVO/index.htm
The second project consisted in inviting all of the Klikor weavers to collaborate in the compilation of a textile encyclopedia, in which all of the patterns known, traditional figures or not, would be brocaded.
In the meantime, in the same place a young Californian anthropologist was beginning his research on the cult of the Thunder God. There was a large crowd, divinations took place and between chants and rituals children jumped every which way. On one side of the courtyard Robert was working on the encyclopedia, absorbed by his work as usual. There was a lot of commotion. I was amazed by the Ghanian ability to concentrate amongst clamorous children and the vagrant animals.
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