Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ojo de Dios "The Eye of God": In Craft or Quilt


The Battle of Puebla, fought on May 5, 1862, was waged as a result of 7,000 French soldiers ( the best equipped army in the world) attacking a Mexican fort,whose troops consisted almost entirely of indigenous soldiers. With Mexican troops that numbered half those of the French and severely under-equipped,they faced a battle that might have been seen as totally improbable or even impossible. As fate would have it,the Mexicans were blessed with a heavy thunderstorm that drenched the combatants, obsuring visibility and making the grounds outside the fort slippery. Before the day was over, the Mexicans had won against all odds. That victory is celebrated as Cinqo de Mayo, today...The Fifth of May.

In honor of this day, I am making 'Ojos de Dios'...the Eyes of God as I craft and as I quilt. Most commonly found among the Huichol Indians of northwestern Mexico, but seen in cultures across the globe, the diamond pattern of interlacing strands, is a version of an oblique mandala. With its four points representing earth, fire, air and water, it is a symbolic representation for expressing in the physical, a prayer that the eye of God will watch over us.

The ojo is made with a crossing of two sticks, using the basic dimensions of the Christian cross, with yarn wrapped from stick to stick to make a diamond shape. The colors change every few inches, in an outwardly progression. The Huichol Indians placed theirs in corn fields 'to keep away ghosts.' In Tibet, similar sticks of yarn are created and placed on rooftops to keep away evil spirits.

In any belief system, they are lovely, made with rainbow colors and used as crafts for children, to jewelry. But what I love most, is that they are the diamond of our string quilting, repeated over and over again as we create our own gifts of caring and sharing for others. So whether you attempt a yarn or a fabric creation, celebrate Cinqo de Mayo by sharing the gift of creating!


4 comments:

  1. I don't remember knowing about the meaning of Cinco de Mayo. Thanks for the history lesson! I'm thinking I must ave been taught at one time and just forgot, because I have made those Eye of God before, and I can't imagine I have gone through this many reasons without having asked for the meaning.

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  2. I remember having my Sunday school students make those many years ago. I always thought they were so striking. I can't believe I never "got" the connection between those and the diamonds of our string quilts. Maybe that's one of the reasons I love the string quilts so very much!

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  3. Having grown up in Southern CA, Cinco de Mayo was a regular holiday that everyone celebrated. I remember in school we spent weeks preparing, and made hundreds of Ojos de Dios - brilliant, gaudy and found everywhere. Gee, i haven't thought of those in many years - and of course that's a string block! Funny, sometimes there really is nothing new under the sun......

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  4. Hi Michele, a very time and lovely tribute to this happy holiday celebration.
    I too, had never connected the diamonds in string to the yarn 'eye'. Lovely post! Thanks for the uplifting thoughts, Hugs, Finn

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.