Single strand Persian wool on 16 mesh canvas, 14 5/8 x 16 1/8"
Continental stitch in all four directions
Approximately 60,372 stitches, 1988-89

I started the second Asian Diary while flying from Seoul to Hong Kong in March, 1988. When I left Korea, I had only two colors of yarn in any quantity: maroon and orange. One cannot buy Persian wool in East Asia, so I had no choice but to use those colors. I thought I would be traveling for a long time, and it had not yet occured to me to mix various kinds of yarns and threads.

The outermost, small, light and dark blue diamond border was put in on the plane from Seoul and in Hong Kong. Then I floated a few OMs along the top and along the bottom. The blue border patterns at top and bottom, under the OMs, were inspired by the beamed ceiling in the Chinese house in which I stayed in Macau with a friend, Ken Ingerson, a Ba'hai and cellist, the only Caucasian member of the Macau Symphony Orchestra. He, his cello and I zipped around on his motorcycle along the semi-colonial, semi-Chinese, fabulously overgrown, multi-gardened streets and roads.

I had celebrated Buddha's birthday in Korea, but the Chinese have a slightly different calendar, so I celebrated it again in Macau -- an amazing old, more or less, Portuguese city, which was about to revert to the Chinese, soon after Hong Kong's reversion.

Then, from Hong Kong, I flew to Thailand and put in more of the border stitches at Ban Chiang, where pottery -- perhaps some of the oldest on earth -- has been found. I had first seen Ban Chiang pottery at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington and could not shake the strong attraction I immediately felt for it.

During an amazing late afternoon and evening, I saw everything in the little museum, went to the Wat (Buddhist monastery) where some of the artifacts can still be see in situ, and that night stayed with a fabulous band of feminists, with whom I shared much wisdom, laughter and wonderful food even though we didn't share a common language and, the next day, on my five mile walk from Ban Ching back to the main highway, I scattered a few of the ashes of my favorite uncle, Frederick.

I had been carrying the ashes to scatter in the Deer Park at Nara. But, having not succeeded in visiting there again after the first time in 1980, I felt, since Freddie was the cultural mentor of my youth (he had visited the Deer Park at Nara when he was a youth, and grew up to become an artist, writer and philosopher),that he would be pleased for a little of him to lie forever near Ban Chiang where, possibly, civilization began. The story of Frederick and his ashes is long and delightful. I hope to post a story about this remarkable man sometime soon.

After visits to many of Thailand's archaeological sites, I flew to Nepal where I meditated with the Tibetans near Kathmandu and was reminded that maroon and orange were the traditional colors of Tibetan monks' robes. It was there, in Bodhnath, I took the Initiation which was to become the underlying foundation for KALACHAKRA, which was soon to become, for almost two years, the most intense and adventurous experience of my "needlepoint life."

The center of ASIAN DIARY #2 is a Hindu temple floor plan originally shown as an illustration in a 16th century Gupta architectural text. It was embellished from this diagram in "A Guide to the Sacred Places of Northen India" by Alistair Shearer, which was given to me by Megan Karlin when, having returned to America, I was living at the Dharma Sah, Korean Zen Center in Los Angeles. Megan also gave me, at this time, the brochure of the Dalai Lama that initiated the work on the KALACHAKRA needlepoint.

Bordering the center floor plan is a pattern adapted from a lattice in Chinese Lattice Designs by David Sheets Dye.

The whole is overlaid by OMs, in various colors, in various settings. Note especially the blue OMs on orange near the four corners. Though one is inclined to see these as symmetrical designs, each setting shows a different configuration.

I finished ASIAN DIARY #1 in 1988 and worked on this needlepoint, ASIAN DIARY #2, while I was living at Dharma Sa and going to Southwestern University School of Law. This second ASIAN DIARY was finished in 1989 during lunch breaks when I worked as a volunteer for the paleontologists at the Page Museum of the LaBrea Tar Pits. One of my assignments there was to wash sabertooth tiger bones and mastodon teeth with Joy.

When both Asian Diaries were finished, I took them one day to show to my good friends Tani Guthrie and Dran Hamilton, directors of Poets Gathering. In their enthusiasm for the finished pieces, they suggested I submit them to an upcoming juried exhibit at the Barnsdall Museum. And though I did not submit them to that competition, it was the first time the the idea of exhibiting the Needlepoints was voiced. Before then, I thought of them only as potential pillows. The early ones were mostly kept in drawer until 1982.

When I left the AFI, I gave them, along with the few worldly goods I wanted to keep track of, into the care of my sister, Helen Hawley. She made the I CHING , UNICORN and NARCISSUS into pillows and, along with GREEN PILLOW, gave them their proper use for many years in her home in Seattle.

Soon after I finished ASIAN DIARY #2 and, having quit law school -- appalled at the thought that if I completed my law degree I would have to continue doing THAT the rest of my life! -- I went on a trip up the West Coast, did some house-sitting, started KALACHAKRA, said au revoir to my Zen mates, and moved to do some administrative work at the Seeds of Change, Gila Environmental Regeneration Project in New Mexico.

Copyright © 2010 through 2015 Jan Haag

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:

The Needlepoints

I The I Ching

II The Unicorn

III Green Pillow

IV Armrests

V Narcissus

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

XIII Kalachakra

XIV Eye of Horus Amulet

XV Erika Sachet

XVI Needlepoint-Cattipoint

XVII Palimpsest

XVIII Cantalloc



IXX Tintal Coin Purse

XX Kaida, Tabla Covers

XXI Tukra, Tabla Covers

XXII Mukhra-Tukra-Chakradar

XXIII The Ten Thats

Also visit

21st CENTURY ART, C.E.-B.C., A Context