What is a Quilting Sword?

still life in angkor wat

My father, an astute and thoughtful man, asked me two great questions.

What is a quilting sword?
What are you meditating about in all those Meditating Wind photos.

Today I’ll answer the first question. But I’ll let you decide which you think is true, multiple choice style.

A. A quilting sword is a curved needle made of hummingbird bone used by Turkish women to embroider their rugs. The designs are usually illustrations of their dreams, often of flying farm animals over fields of opium poppies..

B. A quilting sword is a long dagger wielded by bodyguards of the Dalai Lama. The swords are discreetly hidden under their robes. They are primarily used ceremonially to draw patterns on sand mandalas. And to peel fruit for altars.

C. A quilting sword is a term used in chaos theory to describe how folds of space are stitched violently together during a supernova explosion.

D. It comes from an old Korean saying, “Even in war, a sword is more useful when making quilts.”

Guessed yet? The answer lies after the break.

I’m afraid the truth is nothing as exotic as the quiz above. Long ago, I lived with a quilter. I loved how she could piece together different scraps of cloth and stitch them together to create a whole pattern. I also liked that art could be a useful part of every day life. In this case something to keep you warm. And quilts were made by women in many cultures throughout the world.

At the time I practiced aikido and favored sword practice in particular. One of the principles of aikido is that the sword is an extension of the person’s energy, a tool to focus the spirit, not necessarily a weapon to hurt others.

Those two images merged and I began seeing the sword making patterns in the air, stitching together the fabric of existence.  So that’s how the image of the quilting sword arose.  Later, when I started zineing and blogging, I liked the image because the sword represented my pen, and the quilt represented the multimedia patchwork of words, imagery, and ideas that I sewed together.

So if you want a proper definition here it is:

quilting sword (noun): 1. of or pertaining to a multimedia creation.  2. acts of creation and ruthless editing, scattered throughout the digital forest.

7 thoughts on “What is a Quilting Sword?”

  1. An Aikido mention…nice! I studied Aikido for about 4 years; the thing that really sold me was when I learned that it could be translated to “the Way of Harmony” or even “the Way of Love”. It was an eye-opening experience for me.
    The term “Quilting Sword” has a wonderfully nuanced symbolism: The sword is associated with exacting destruction and the quilt is all about making a wholeness out of disparate pieces. It seems to be similar to Aikido in that the goal is to use different energies to produce a harmonious outcome…or maybe I’m just navel-gazing too much!

  2. i like your interpretation of the symbolism. it is a kind of destruction/creation cycle. a shiva/kali sort of thing. there’s a little bit of breaking something down in the act of creation. and there’s a bit of order that comes out of destruction.

  3. I love your meditations on the quilting sword… and as a quilter I agree that destruction needs to happen in order to piece together a new creation… the needle and scissors are swords… and the quilter is a warrior cutting apart conventions to make something unforeseen, unexpected, unique… and the newly made fabric can be a sheath for the sword. Maybe it’s similar to the way we cut apart our old habits and patterns to fabricate new ways of being, and those new ways wrap around us, made by our power, protecting our power, then ripped apart and recycled by our power when we don’t need them anymore. Hm! Fun to speculate…. thank you for the inspiration!

  4. natasch, that’s just beautiful imagery. straight from the quilter’s pen.

    i totally forgot about ‘syzygist’. now that you mentioned it i gotta get that in my blog somehow.

  5. Thank you so very much for a delightful hour or so perusing your “quilts”, which was my intended search. I will be back for more and currently will be sharing answer “D. …from an old Korean saying, “Even in war, a sword is more useful when making quilts.”

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