Isn’t this card fabulous? It was sent to me quite some time ago (thanks Margot!) and I’ve kept it propped up in my studio ever since. The idea of a bird stringing berry beads delights me endlessly. But today it seems especially wonderful.
That’s because today is Hari-Kuyo – Festival of the Broken Needles, celebrated annually in Japan on February 8.
It’s a ceremony that dates back more than 1500 years. Women, often traditional kimono seamstresses, bring their needles that have broken or worn out in the previous year to Buddhist or Shinto temples where the needles are thanked for their service and memorialized. While monks chant sutras, the women place their needles into large slabs of tofu.
The idea behind placing the needles in tofu is to offer them comfort and support in a soft surrounding after a life of working being placed and pushed through heavy, dense fabrics. Tradition also suggests that it is believed women carrying sorrows in their hearts, pass those burdens along to the needles during long hours of sewing, and therefore the needles are especially in need of gratitude and honor for their assistance in this release.
While I’m not Buddhist, I’ve always felt great kinship with the idea of honoring inanimate objects and thanking them for their service. Even more so these days I wonder how different our world might be if we truly treated every being, including those we like to consider objects, with respect and kindness.
If you’ve ever wondered how needles were made, do check out this short video. It’s an amazing process, and now that I’ve seen it I really do view needles in a different way.
I’ve been busy making and stringing beads this past couple of weeks, and I’ve often thought about the dear bird stringing the berry beads, as well as another bird with beads. I love this silver bead I have, created by Anne Choi, of a crow holding a string of beads. It makes me smile every time I see it. Just like crow, I can’t resist a lovely string of beads either.
What about you? Have you been stringing anything lately? Have something you’d like to honor or say thank you to? Been celebrating something? Do tell – you know I love to hear.