Prose Poem | Symbolic Design
The Nature of BeadBy Anna Johnson
February 18, 2009
|As I spin, I am a thread of light, a slow spiraling leaf, strung, unstrung, the knot of illusion –emerald, pella, diamond fuchsine.
The Bird Cage -Frederick C. Frieseke (1910)
I am everything that you are –indigo, azure, and twilight rose. I am that which falls through the center of itself on silk thread. Hold me for a moment.
The bead is an ancient text written in the mythological-ancestral language of being. Its elegant persona, strung, sewn and woven into clothing and celebrated in poetry and dance –was the tribal grounding force.
My symmetry and your spirit are interwoven like color, light, and clay; together we moved heaven and earth –opaline, jasper, pink.
In addition, the fashioning of beads along sequential principles of tribal artisanship acquired a shamanic-talismanic role in the concept of self, and developed in correlation with language, abstract thought, and trade.
I am natura, the rhythm of nature, a thread of myth and dream. I have given you colors to heal, protect, and harmonize –violet, satin red, plum.
Ceremonial objects of depth and color, shamanic red (passion), symbolic blue (loyalty), and divine lavender (inspiration), symbolized the ancestral circle, the journey that has no beginning and no end (the circle of life).
On a path into mist, the seven stars of the Great Bear rise from sleep and set out on the long path of forever –crystal blue, gypsy smoke, garnet.
Madame Duvaucey -Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1807)
Emblematic bead sequence was composed to rythmes de nature, to draw energy from light, or reflect it, as in transparent and opaque, extraction and refraction, and was essential to tribal costume.
In daylight, I love the reflection of water and sky, in the nighttime I reinvent myself with story telling and ritual –fuchsia, jonquil, fireopal.
Dramatic ornamentation was a shamanic technique to renew the healing powers of nature. Beads were embroidered on clothing, belts, and shoes; twisted into hair, loomed and strung into necklaces, anklets, and bracelets.
The crisscross of geese in red silky sunset, the old moon in the new moon’s arms, a play of light and shadow –turquoise, chalcedony, onyx.
This symbolic beading conferred lucidity to ornamentation, and the spirit of shamanic renewal –post tenebras lux lividus (beyond darkness a blue dawn) –was cave oriented and bead-centric.
The color of light falling through stone, the thought of color falling into the absence of color –blue water, pearlescent pink, misty rose.
The remarkable symbolic resemblance of the ancestral cave and the bead, ritualized in healing ceremony, dream-reverie, shamanic chant, and story telling, sanctified the tribal circle.
In your hand, I am subsistentia and elucus, the silence of your fingertips are moments of pure joy –crystalline, smoky quartz, celestial garnet.
The evolution of self, cultivated by beading, costuming, story telling, role-playing, was instrumental in the symbolic markings of color and design used to designate trails, boundaries, and entrances to caves.
I am the circle of life, finis caeruleus coronat opus, shadows and firelight, your dreams are my creation –red porcelain, black granite, dragon blue.
Although precise origins are vague, bead making goes back 35,000 years, when the enigmatic Aurignacian created tools, beads, graphic artwork, imaginative dress, herbal flasks, musical instruments, and stoneware.
As I spin, I am a thread of light, a slow spiraling leaf, strung, unstrung, the knot of illusion –emerald, pella, diamond fuchsine.
The Aurignacian carved ivory, black onyx, obsidian, blue slate, marble, serpentine and limestone into pendants, bracelets, beads, and a bestiary of symbolic artifacts –with remarkable talent.
The double reed of flute and the low drum of stones in a streambed; no one will ever touch this space –alabaster, august yellow, pale violet.
As symbols of rebirth, beads were personal belongings, ritualized in music and dance. In the cave at night, the shamanic dream journey climbed the seven primal rungs of color.
The aura of stone is its color, a substance from deep in the earth, a secret code that is worth holding on to –lapis, red bud, nest egg blue.
The Aurignacian dyed beads, tools, and clothing with red ochre (titanium dioxide), rose hematite (iron oxide), indigo (isatis tinctoria) lichen purple (rocella tinctoria), and cristal noir (manganese oxide).
I will re-create myself, beginning at the end, gathering sapphire, violet, crysolith, into a black rose, and live forever.
The stunning array of panthers, bears, and owls in the Aurignacian cave paintings at Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc are luxuriant in shamanic color, intricate talismanic background detail, and visionary depth.
There is night in the wings of the moon and the knowledge beyond stone, the wall of color is a passageway –primrose, viridian, damask.
The persona of the bead re-created the cave; as the tribal grounding force, it protected, healed, and entertained. The storyteller’s beads and the wall paintings in the dark –illuminated with fire light –wrote the language.
I am the shepherdess of design and delight and dance, the embodiment of nature –Isabella green, amethyst, sunrise opal.
The bead was a cave within a cave, and because shamanic spiritual power was reliant on artistic coherence to transform time and space into a mirror of each other –the bead became the cave.
We are so close, my sister, myself, Arcturus, star of the celestial halo, strung to the gravity that endures –chalcedony, sienna, Isis blue.
The bead had a propinquity that other objects did not have. The blue bead was fidelity; the clay bead was nature; the sequential threading of beads completed the person. The nature of bead was joyous and healing.
In the crystalline leap of elements, the mosaic of passion is a moment reassembled again in dream –pink quartz, blue topaz, thistle rose.
The modern bead persona translated out of ancient text, which in turn derived from symbolic ritual, moves in subsistentia and elucus –color and light –and speaks in a language of being.
The blue water is the reflection of the sky itself, the shadow of my body is the body itself, thought is light itself –cerulean, coronat, opus blue.