tanabata girl #4
A special numbered girl who is celebrating the star festival in Japan, known as tanabata or tanabata matsuri. Tanabata means 'seventh evening'.
The 'summer triangle' of stars are an asterism (a familiar pattern of stars that are not one of the official 88 constellations) made up of Altair, Vega and Deneb. Two of these stars play their part in a Japanese folk tale which goes as follows:
There was once a princess named Orihime (織姫) who wove the most beautiful cloth for her father the sky king Tentei (天帝) on the banks of the Milky Way, known as the Amanogawa (天の川, meaning “heavenly river"). Her father noticed how lonely she was spending all of her time weaving and so he arranged for her to meet a cow herder in the sky, called Hikoboshi. He made a good choice, as they fell in love and got married very quickly. But the two lovers forgot about their work, the herder’s cows strayed all over the heavens, and the princess neglected her weaving.
This made Tentei very angry, and he forced his daughter onto one side of the Amanogawa and Hikoboshi onto the other, where they could no longer see each other. Deeply hurt by the loss of her husband, Orihime begged her father to let her see him again. Moved by her tears, Tentei agreed that the two could meet each other once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month, allowing them to focus on their work for the rest of the time. Orihime is represented by the star Vega and Hikoboshi by the star Altair, which form two corners of the 'summer triangle' of stars, and can be seen separated by part of the Milky Way's dense band of stars.
The custom in Japan is to write a wish on a strip of paper known as a 'tanzaku' and hang it from bamboo (or sometimes branches) - if the sky is clear, and the lovers can meet, then your wish will come true. If it is cloudy, then you may have to wait another year! Because several different calendars are sometimes used in Japan for festivals, the star festival can also take place in August in some parts of the country.
There is even a little song for tanabata, which goes:
“The bamboo leaves rustle,
shaking in the eaves.
The stars twinkle
on the gold and silver grains of sand.
The five-colour paper strips
I have already written
The stars twinkle
They watch us from heaven”
ささのは さらさら (sasa no wa sara-sara)
のきばに ゆれる (nokiba ni yureru)
お星さま きらきら (ohoshi-sama kira-kira)
きんぎん すなご (kingin sunago)
ごしきの たんざく(goshiki no tanzaku)
わたしが かいた (watashi ga kaita)
お星さま きらきら (ohoshi-sama kira kira
空から 見てる (sora kara miteru)
My wood girl interpretation of tanabata has a body decoration inspired by the dense band of stars seen in the Milky Way, highlighted with gold coloured gilder's powder. The two lovers' stars are highlighted in silver foiling. She sports a branch of bamboo on her head, with five 'tanzaku' wooden wish strips dangling from the branches. These have been attached using sashiko thread, and you could add or replace with your own made of paper or fabric if you wished.
My pieces are painted in a naïve and simple style, with visible brush strokes and differing paint consistencies. It is important to note that these dolls are made from real wood which will have naturally occurring markings and grain, and sometimes there will be small amount of bleeding along the grain, or knots, which is to be expected when using untreated wood - please make sure you consult the pictures carefully before purchasing.
A note about 'Wood Girls'
My wooden girls are made from lime or linden wood and hand painted in the U.K. by me, a British artist, exploring patterns and scenes encountered by me on my travels and in daily life. They were inspired by the kokeshi dolls made in Japan, and with every new purchase I include a leaflet explaining a little about the history of kokeshi in Japan and how they are made. I prefer to call mine 'wood girls' to distinguish them from the traditional folk craft of Japan.
Stamped underneath with ‘nakamura’ characters [中村] in red ink.
Approximately 20cm high.
Please note: THIS IS NOT A TOY and should be kept out of the reach of children.