Owned and operated by fiber artist Susan Ball Faeder since 1989

Empress Jingu’s Sacred Combs

Empress Jingu’s Sacred Combs © Susan Ball Faeder

A partial-truth tale based on some real facts: An ancient scroll was recently discovered hidden inside the back of the lotus-petal base of the huge 1000-armed, 11-headed Amida Kannon Buddha at Rengeo-in (known today as Sanjusangendo Temple). It describes the story of a pilgrimage in 1166AD (shortly after the temple was founded) by a group of monks who attempted to retrieve Japanese Empress Jingu’s (169-269AD) treasured hair combs (a gift from her husband at their marriage) which she (according to legend) then offered to the gods as a gift before cutting her hair and leading her troops to victory dressed as a soldier at the front line of battle about 200AD. The scroll reads: “Follow the path indicated on the map to the western hills of Miyako (modern day Kyoto) for three days on foot until you come upon a pond with twin lotuses that mark the entrance to a hidden moss garden. The spirits of the sacred deer wait to welcome you. By the midnight light of the 11th full moon, the Empress’s three tortoise shell combs will be revealed among a blanket of brightly colored fallen maple leaves.”

Along with commercially produced fabrics, there are hand-painted, hand-dyed, hand-stamped, and hand-stenciled cotton fabrics by the artist, plus cheesecloth and assorted collected “treasures” of the artist such as tortoise combs, sacred deer chain, beads, buttons, and a Kannon goddess wooden temple plack from the Sanjusangendo Temple in Kyoto. Machine-pieced and machine-quilted by the artist.

(46.5” Ht. x 32.5” W.) 2020

Detail of Empress Jingu’s Sacred Combs © Susan Ball Faeder
Click to enlarge.

Owned and operated by fiber artist Susan Ball Faeder since 1989

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