The image on this card delights me. I’ve had it for years and I move it around my studio regularly. Lately I’ve been keeping it tucked into the large basket of beading projects I’ve gathered to work on. I like to think the bird is keeping an eye on things, and perhaps maybe even will be tempted to tackle some of the backlog for me.
Whether I dip into the beading today or work on a talismanic embroidery project I’ve undertaken, I guarantee I’ll be wielding some needles today. All in honor of 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.
Just as the bird string berries on the card makes me smile, I also love this silver bead created by Anne Choi. Her work is fabulous and I’ve collected a number of her beads over the years, but this remains one of my favorite – a crow holding a string of beads. Just like Crow, I can’t resist a lovely string of beads either.
What about you? Have you been stringing anything lately? Broken any needles? Have something you’d like to honor or say thank you to? Do tell – you know I love to hear.