Monday, March 1, 2010




Trees have natural divinity.  The abode of gods and spirits, the living cosmic tree reaches into both upper and lower spheres of the ritual universe, defining their position with respect to everyday experience and serving to symbolize the path that the soul-mind-awareness must take during ritual.  The sacred tree appears in many forms of religious belief, from the cross of Christianity to the central pole of the plains Indian Sundance lodge.   The single cottonwood pole which stands at the heart of the Sundance Lodge represents the link between the earth and sky realms and the four winds or directions.

In Japan, trees are objects of reverence and especially so if they are of great age or size, or otherwise remarkable for their shape.  Such trees are known as Shimboku, divine trees and distinguished by a hemp rope being wound around their trunk.  Besides trees noted for their age, magic or stature the prestigious category of trees rated desirable by the Japanese also compromises those trees whose grain has been veined by the action of insects.  These were employed in the building of temples, shrines, palaces and the houses of wealthy citizens.   

As a rule the surface was left unworked and any natural irregularities were made visible.  Artistic treatment of the surface was hardly ever permitted.  In the scrolls and screens the pine is one of the trees most commonly depicted.  It is considered the symbol of longevity constancy and self discipline.  since it is able to withstand the cold and does not shed its needles.  It's gnarled growth formed by wind, rain, sun and snow, was of perpetual fascination to the artists of China and Japan.

In India there are many sacred trees and spirits are thought to reside in them.


       Trees from Nuapatna, Orissa, India 
 Tree with snake stones Nuapatna, India
 Tree with offerings of necklaces and a ceramic pot for milk.

          Stone carving from a temple in Bhubaneswar,
Orissa, India

      Palampore images are of the Tree of Life.  A palampore is a type of hand-painted and mordant-dyed bed cover that was made in India for the export market during the eighteenth century and very early nineteenth century.
Palampore patterns were usually very complex and elaborate, depicting a wide variety of plants, flowers, and animals, including peacocks, elephants, and horses. Because a palampore was hand-created, each design is unique.       
Concrete tree, Puri, Orissa, India

Lattice carving, Forbidden City, Beijing, China

                                        M. Joan Lintault Uncoiling Snakes, Hand dyed, screen painted cotton, appliqué, hand painted, quilted, sewing machine lace, beads. 81.5 x 81.5 in, 207 x 207 cm.