The journey of an American girl within the sacred textile artwork of Tibet – Buddhistdoor World

The journey of an American girl within the sacred textile artwork of Tibet – Buddhistdoor World
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The journey of an American girl within the sacred textile artwork of Tibet – Buddhistdoor World
Picture courtesy of She Writes Press

Half travelogue, half religious biography and half fiction, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo Awakening Threads: An American Lady’s Journey within the Sacred Textile Artwork of Tibet (2022) is an eloquent work that’s each an journey and a return residence; transformation and grounding. Leslie is a textile artist, trainer and one of many few Netibetans to grasp the artwork of silk functions. thangkas. On this ebook, which will likely be printed on August 23 by She Writes Press, Leslie tells a young human story of how she got here to this inventive vocation full of emotional richness and uncooked honesty. A really helpful and fascinating utility notes a number of the fundamental stitches and shapes that Leslie has used for many years to make a Tibetan-style applique.

There are two principal outlines of this ebook in six sections: the non-public journey of religious and self-discovery and the examine and mastery of the silk applique thangkas. There are numerous tales in every subject that put us subsequent to Leslie as she meets her first utility lecturers, falls in love, or is given the duty by the Dalai Lama to make a non-Buddhist, a real Christian. thangkas. Accents abound; anecdotes about her private life set in a broader cultural context that defines her as a Western-oriented Buddhist. There are numerous subsections, however on the whole there are seven components, every of which signifies a facet of weaving: “Fibers”, “Threads”, “Base”, “Path”, “Elements”, “Worship” and “Buddha”, as subsections are known as “Items”. The ebook may be likened to one thing like a tapestry for her life. However this can be a story that can not be advised with out wanting on the particular person elements, very like it thangkas they’re by no means entire with out consideration to every particular person thread, which at first appears unrelated to the opposite components and sections.

Picture courtesy of She Writes Press

The ebook begins with Leslie’s early expertise as an intellectually curious younger pupil on the College of California, Santa Cruz, assembly Tibetans in exile and her first assembly with the Dalai Lama on campus. The “official” starting of this journey was a visit in 1988 to Nepal and New Delhi, the place she formally launched into the Buddhist journey:

Simply as a marriage ceremony doesn’t create marriage, an asylum ceremony doesn’t create a Buddhist. However there’s energy in public declaration. . . . For me, discovering refuge earlier than Geshe Sonam Rinchen and Ruth was a means of declaring to my very own movement of thoughts that the path of my life’s journey, no matter worldly occasions I adopted, was in direction of interior freedom and understanding, utilizing the teachings of Buddha as a information and compass.


In piece 23, Leslie describes a quick historical past of Tibetan weaving, from the early days of silk imported by Tang China into the Tibetan Empire to how “thriving manufacturing reappeared among the many group of exiles in India and Nepal and a number of other massive appliqués. thangkas had been made in Tibet itself, together with the large Tsurfu thangka a mission in Jap Tibet run by Theris and Leslie Nguyen Temple. (115)

One of many distinguishing benefits of this ebook is how a lot element Leslie places into the Tibetan-style stitching course of. This distinctive self-discipline, which she outlines, is value quoting freely. As she describes:

Whenever you wrap this fibrous silk thread across the scaly hair from a horse’s tail, the fibers of the thread are caught within the scales of the hair. They cling, and the very power of that cling binds them collectively. The thread stays tightly wrapped across the hair. No adhesives required. Now I’ve to confess that it took me weeks of apply to wrap a thread round my hair. It was a large number the primary time I attempted it.


Her dialogue of high-tech processes, removed from dry, is comparatively unprecedented in volumes discussing Buddhist artwork, as textiles are lined much less incessantly than work or sculpture. Apart from, it’s Tibetan textiles:

Tenzin Galzen [Leslie’s teacher] he confirmed me methods to stabilize the tissue by rubbing the flawed facet of the material with uncooked meat and melting its fats into sizzling iron fibers. The meat fats gave the delicate material sufficient stability to maintain its form as we sewed the curved cords by way of its linear weave. He launched me to the Tibetan means of stitching by hand, pointing the needle down a vertical path, not transversely, as Westerners often do. I tailored rapidly, virtually as if I had completed it earlier than. Every sew made a sew that held my new horsehair wire to the floor of my flesh-stabilized material. Loop after sew, sew after sew, I linked material cords alongside the strains of my drawing.


Along with extremely developed motor expertise and technical data of textiles, Leslie discovered her life in Asia inextricably linked to the revival of textile self-discipline amongst Tibetans. That is particularly vital in components 4, 5 and 6, that are notably distinctive amongst Tibetan artwork publications because of Leslie’s distinctive view of silk artwork. In piece 39, Leslie vividly describes a 12 months of intense engagement – six days per week – with the motifs and design of Tibetan artwork:

Eyes of birds, eyes of snakes, eyes of deer, eyes of snow lions and dragons. Garlands of severed heads hanging from offended shoulders. Folks and animals crushed below offended toes. So many faces. So many eyes. All this helps somebody to see deeper into actuality, to review extra intently the character of their expertise. Faces so small that they sit comfortably within the palm of my hand. Day after day, eyes, eyes and extra eyes.


From her private acquaintance with the fundamentals and eventual progress as a mentor in her personal proper, Leslie’s later growth as a trainer displays the educational about life and the stitches she went by way of many years in the past. For instance, she based the Stitching Buddhas® digital apprenticeship program in 2008, a workshop that connects college students from a number of international locations and throughout the USA to be taught Tibetan functions in six months (271). Not everybody will go to Nepal, India and Tibet for a life-changing journey. Few may have the dedication, time, or want to actually grasp a self-discipline like Leslie. Nonetheless, as her college students progress in finesse, they will resolve whether or not to enter a membership program that may provide initiatives of accelerating problem till they accomplish that for a number of years. thangkas similar to their trainer.

Threads of awakening is a ebook with many subjects, so to talk, every of which have to be pulled barely to see the place it leads. There may be one that may inform the story of a lady born within the West who discovered her religious path after a gradual journey that led to a elementary rearrangement of her life priorities. There may be one other story a few skilled girl who immersed herself within the unknown world of stitching and thread, acquired acquainted with it and rediscovered herself with a brand new vocation. They’re all a part of the identical tapestry, though they’ve their very own distinctive shades and vibrant colours. Leslie’s religious autobiography might technically be for her, however her consultant and insightful presentation stimulates the introspection of our personal journeys, no matter they could be.

Be part of Leslie in a Zoom speak on August 28, 6:00 PM PST, “Awakening Threads: When Your Bypass Turns into the Manner of Your Life” as she discusses her upcoming ebook Awakening Threads: An American Lady’s Journey within the Sacred Textile Artwork of Tibet (2022).

See extra

Awakening Threads: Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

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