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Japanese Charms and Talismans
Saturdays in March: 4, 11, and 18. 10:00 - noon PST
Anyone enamored of Japanese culture will be familiar with Girls Day on March third–Hinamatsuri, or Festival of Dolls. However, the term hina means so much more than just doll. The closest I can come in English is charm, or talisman, although it won’t appear in dictionaries this way.
  Hina date back to a period in which calamities were attributed to supernatural powers. As my dad growing up in Minnesota used to say, “Oofta happens!” Well, “oofta” could be anything–from fire, to famine, to a bacterial infection, or just a stubbed toe. It was all caused by mischievous and malevolent forces in the environment. To guard against these, people carried hina on their person, much like one might carry a rabbit’s foot for luck. And just as anyone steeped in white magic today will tell you, charms come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.
Generally, the earliest charms employed the concept of purity as a weapon against the little demons seeking to wreak havoc. Hina made from white sheets of paper, a luxury in ancient times, or soybeans, as a pure source of nutrition and health, are both good examples. Small slips of paper could be tucked into one’s garment as the talisman indiscreetly went about its business of protecting the wearer. With time, people began to personalize these bits and shape them into human form, an ally more readily identified, an intimate companion. Wrap the paper around a soybean and you have double the protection. Add a touch of red, the color of virtue and blood as the source of life, and stand back!
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In this three-day course we will begin with such simple hina as katashiro, the white paper dolls pictured above right, move on to amagatsu, to the left, and eventually on to more elaborate representations similar to the ones we think of as dolls today.
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We will also be taking side trips into hina that evolved into other forms, such as the belief that the act of stitching traps and contains evil, and unstitching dispels it. This leads us to the custom of taking kimono apart when laundering, as well as adding decorative stitches to the center back of a garment if no seam is present, as in semori, as seen on the right.
We’ll be covering all this and a great deal more in this fast-paced program.
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All sessions will be recorded on Zoom and available for you for download. All of the how-to video-clips I prepare of each project will be available for you to view online at your leisure for at least one month following the class.
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Enrollment is limited to fourteen students per class.
If the class is full by the time you try to sign up, please write and let me know. I’ll put you on the waiting list and also make sure that you are among the very first to be contacted next time I schedule an indigo class. john@johnmarshall.to
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