Friday, 15 November 2013

To sew is to pray: wise words from Louise Erdrich

Indigenous repair detail, Blackfoot shirt, Pitt Rivers Museum 1893.67.3

I work with historic First Nations and Native American material culture, and am drawn to beaded, embroidered, and appliqu├ęd items. They say so much about the lives of the women who created them.

I recently found this quote by Native author Louise Erdrich that fits the moccasins, bags, coats, leggings, and so many other things that have found their way into museum collections so well:

“To sew is to pray. Men don't understand this. They see the whole but they don't see the stitches. They don't see the speech of the creator in the work of the needle. We mend. We women turn things inside out and set things right. We salvage what we can of human garments and piece the rest into blankets. Sometimes our stitches stutter and slow. Only a woman's eyes can tell. Other times, the tension in the stitches might be too tight because of tears, but only we know what emotion went into the making. Only women can hear the prayer.” 

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