INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO
Scattered across its surface is the Sanskrit OM.
In the fall of 1987, I walked down California's Salinas Valley from Carmel to Cambria. While resting under trees and in the gardens of the San Antonio Mission, I stitched the outside borders of this needlepoint, as described in my story, MISSION WALK, published in "Travelers' Tales, A Woman's World."
The center section was completed in Korea (1987) during the three months winter meditation (Kyol Che) at Su Dok Sa, a Buddhist monastery near Seoul. Su Dok Sa, the oldest temple of which was originally founded in the ninth century, is on a mountain which it shares with thirteen other nunneries and monasteries. It was winter, and crisply, coldly, beautiful with some snow and much sunshine.
We rose at 3:00 A.M. -- at which time I had the privilege of ringing the eight foot bell with a small log. One swung the suspended-vertically log back and forth to gather momentum, then set it free to strike the bell. While it was resonating, one walked around the bell, absorbing the enormous vibrations into one's body, and struck the bell again, facing the other direction. This was done thirty-three times in the starlit night, wearing all my clothes to keep from freezing.
We meditated throughout the day.
Much of the work on Asian Diary #1 was done during the long lunch break. I usually sat on the polished floor outside the meditation hall (the jitty bang), leaning against the inside glass doors, with the outside paper doors just slightly open to let in the sun -- and the ringing sound of hammers against chisels against stones. For down below, on a newly created artificial lake, they were building a new temple in the traditional way. Columns of enormous tree trucks stood already in the great hall of the temple, while the stone masons carved half-circles of fluted stone, one by one, to face these pillars from floor to ceiling.
For me, this Kyol Che was a time of great depression and great peace. The mountain monasteries of Korea are colorful, often ancient, and always beautiful. It was a priviledge to live for awhile as a nun, with the sole responsibility to meditate "for the good of all sentient beings" in silence. After Kyol Che, we visited many other sacred sites and temples in Korea, where, whenever I had the opportunity, sitting in the woods, resting in a temple, I would put in a few more stitches.
The Kundalini diagram forms the central diamond shape. It can be traced by a single red thread wrapped in gold which creates all twenty of the blue "windows;" its points are at the four OMs in the wide dark red and blue border. In the upper section of this border the "Tibetan eyes" can also be seen.
In the upper blue "center" windows are the Korean characters for Keon Soeng, my Buddhist name, which means "to find peace through nature." In the lower blue center windows are the Sanskrit characters for Devayani, my Hindu name, which means, "leads to God." The background in the central section was inspired by a design of a Korean quilt at Su Dok Sa.
The lightest border, outlining the center section, is a coffered abstraction of a dharma talk by the Pong Jang Sunim in Su Dok Sa's 13th century, open, paper-windowed-over-lattice, golden-lit-by-sunlight (or candle light) main temple.
The wide red, blue and yellow border was inspired by a wall design at Hwan Hee Dae, one of the nunneries on the same mountain as Su Dok Sa. The Chinese lattice design overlaying the Hwan Hee Dae border was adapted from a pattern in CHINESE LATTICE DESIGNS by David Sheets Dye.
The small numbers around the edge of this lattice design represent stitch counts as I was figuring out how to adapt the pattern to the canvas.
The whole of this layered design is meant to suggest the complex beauty of rugs lying one atop another. At times and in the right light, the dimensionality of the original is quite astonishing. Unification of the pattern is again achieved by the use of tribal rug colors. A single design is often worked in several colors.
Having sent this not-quite-finished needlepoint home from Korea, with my dear friend, the poet and playwright, Chungmi Kim, I completed it in the fall of 1988 in Los Angeles while I was living at the Dharma Sah Zen center and attending law school.
Asian Diary #1 was mended in 1995.
Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
II The Unicorn
III Green Pillow
VI Chinese Chair Pillow
VII Great Grandmother's Legacy
VIII Octagonal Beanbag
IX Flora and Fauna Beanbag
X Asian Diary #1, Kundalini
XI Asian Diary #2
XII Tibetan Yantra Beanbag
XIV Eye of Horus Amulet
XV Erika Sachet
THE FOLLOWING NEEDLEPOINTS ARE BASED ON THE RHYTHMS AND MELODY OF
NORTH INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC
IXX Tintal Coin Purse
XX Kaida, Tabla Covers
XXI Tukra, Tabla Covers
XXIII The Ten Thats