Friday, October 30, 2009

Frida and Her Huipil

The work on Frida progresses -- I have chosen an exquisite cross-stitched panel of unknown folk origins.  It is most likely Central Asian.  The iconography features concatenated diamonds with rows of swastikas.  Now a word on that symbol -- the name comes from the Sanskrit and it means "auspicious symbol."  It has different connotations depending on whether the running cross runs clockwise or counterclockwise.  Because positive and negative directions run along those registers, I believe this piece speaks of the wholeness of creation.  Never mind the fascist co-opt of that symbol.  Frida despised the fascists with all her considerable passions.  The swastika seems to cross-culturally universal, and it has showed up in diverse places from Buddhist to South American cultures.  The panel may even be Hmong (Miao) of southern China.  But my goal was to evoke Frida's taste for the rich, complex and finely crafted, so while it doesn't fit into the panoply of Mexican regional tradition, it feels right to me.  Her earring is a milagro of a smiling sun, which I think works, because the swastika is also believed to be a symbol of the sun, as well as of an active, creative life.  Next step, draft the pattern for her undergarments -- in all the resources I have seen, nowhere does it mention Frida's underwear, except the tortuous corsets that braced her poor spine.  I expect she either wore none at all or the very best embroidered, appliqued, monogrammed silk.  I think it'll be a camisole and tap pants with lace inserts, and a monogram, of course.  Frida actually monogrammed her own sheets in a Gothic script with black floss.

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