The Mythology of Weaving

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In many weaving cultures, the upper crossbeam of a loom is called, “the beam of heaven.” The bottom of the loom represents earth. Therefore what you have in the middle is the world of creation.


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In all mythology, weaving is born in the divine world and so there must always be a single flaw in the pattern – to serve as a reminder of the imperfection of the physical world.

Which is why master weaver and Goddess Athena turned her mortal pupil Arachne into a spider when she boasted her weaving was superior to any goddess’s. Arachnids, the family of spiders (and expert weavers), borrow her name.

Clothes can be likened to language, where words are to the formation of syntax as threads are to fabric. “Text” and “textile” share a common root, meaning “to weave.” We have expressions: “the vocabulary of fashion” or “the fashion conversation.” We may “spin a story.” The Dogon tribe of Mali refer to the loom as secret speech and say that to be nude is “to be without words.”

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Weaving is made up of a horizontal warp and a vertical weft, which criss-cross each other like time and space and result in the so-called tapestry of life.

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With this thread of life, we weave mankind’s narrative and alter it. To dress ourselves can be to commit a sacred act. Our bodies are our altar, our  weaving is our prayer. The clothes are our collective stories.

 

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