An American Woman’s Journey to the Sacred Weaving Art of Tibet – An International Buddhist Door

Picture courtesy of She Writes Press

Half Journey Journey, Half Non secular Autobiography, Half Inventive Info by Leslie Rinchen Wongmo Threads of Awakening: An American Lady’s Journey to the Sacred Artwork of Tibetan Weaving (2022) An eloquent work of journey and homecoming; switching and grounding; Leslie is a textile artist, instructor, and one of many few non-Tibetans who’ve mastered the artwork of silk adorning. Thanks. On this e book, to be revealed by She Writes Press on August 23, Leslie tells a young human story of how she arrived at this creative occupation, full of emotional richness and uncooked honesty. A really helpful and attention-grabbing appendix notes a number of the foundational stitches and shapes that Leslie has used for many years to embellish the Tibetan model.

There are two basic traces to this six-section e book: the private journey of spirituality and self-discovery, and the educational and mastery of silk embellishment. Thanks. Inside every matter there are lots of tales that put us aspect by aspect with Leslie as she meets her first lecturers, falls in love, or receives the Dalai Lama’s mission to make a non-Buddhist, however a Christian, Thanks. Many highlights. Anecdotes about her private life fall inside broader cultural contexts that she recognized as Western transformed to Buddhism. There are lots of subsections, however normally there are seven elements, every of which refers to a facet of weaving: ‘fiber’, ‘thread’, ‘warp’, ‘weft’, ‘lower’, ‘sanctifying’, ‘Buddha’, With subsections referred to as “Widgets”. The e book could be likened to a tapestry of some sort about her life. However it’s a story that can’t be instructed with out wanting on the particular person elements, very similar to her Thanks It’s by no means full with out taking note of each single thread that appears, at first, unconnected to the opposite elements and sections.

Picture courtesy of She Writes Press

The e book begins with Leslie’s early background as a curious younger scholar on the College of California, Santa Cruz, assembly Tibetans in exile, and her first encounter with the Dalai Lama on campus. The “official” begin of this journey was the 1988 trek to Nepal and New Delhi, the place I formally entered the Buddhist path:

Simply as a marriage doesn’t create a wedding, an asylum ceremony doesn’t create a Buddhist. However there may be energy in public promoting. . . . For me, turning to Geshe Sonam Rinchen and Ruth was a means of declaring to my stream of thoughts that the path of my life’s journey, by means of no matter worldly occasions would observe, was towards internal freedom and understanding, utilizing the Buddha’s teachings as a information and compass.


In piece 23, Leslie charts a short historical past of Tibetan textile, from the early days of imported silk from Tang China into the Tibetan Empire to how “thriving manufacturing emerged among the many exile neighborhood of India and Nepal, and some giant ornaments. Thanks They have been made inside Tibet itself, together with the large Tsurfu thangka A mission in jap Tibet, run by Teres and Leslie Nguyen Temple.” (115)

One of many distinguishing options of this e book is the quantity of element Leslie goes into relating to the Tibetan-style stitching course of. This distinctive system, which I’ve recognized, deserves to be quoted freely. As you describe:

Whenever you wrap this silky, fibrous thread round a fluffy ponytail, the thread’s fibers get caught within the hair scales. They cling, and the sheer energy of that cling binds them. The thread stays securely wrapped across the hair. No adhesives required. Now, I’ve to confess that it took me weeks of coaching to wrap the thread across the hair. It was a large number the primary time I attempted it.


Her dialogue of high-tech processes, removed from dry, is comparatively unparalleled in volumes discussing Buddhist artwork, the place textiles are lined much less typically than work or sculptures. Furthermore, that is Tibetan Textiles:

Tenzin Jialtsen [Leslie’s teacher] Present me how one can stabilize the material by rubbing the incorrect aspect of the material with uncooked meat and melting the grease into the fibers with a scorching iron. The fats of the flesh gave the fragile material simply sufficient stability to carry its form because the bowing ropes have been sewn by means of their longitudinal weave. He launched me to the Tibetan technique of hand stitching, pointing the needle down alongside a vertical path, fairly than pointing it crosswise as Westerners normally do. I tailored rapidly, as if I had completed it earlier than. Every sew made a loop that might maintain my new hair rope to the floor of my welded material. Loop after loop, sew after sew, I connected ropes to a bit of material alongside the traces of the drawing.


Other than extremely developed motor abilities and technical information of textiles, Leslie discovered her life in Asia inextricably linked with the revival of the textile system amongst Tibetans. That is particularly vital in Components IV, V, and VI, that are notably distinctive amongst publications on Tibetan artwork due to Leslie’s distinctive perception into the artwork of silk. In piece 39, Leslie vividly describes a 12 months of intense engagement—six days every week—with the motifs and designs of Tibetan artwork:

Chook eyes, snake eyes, deer eyes, snow lions and dragon eyes. Wreaths of severed heads cling from indignant shoulders. People and animals are crushed below their indignant toes. Many faces. Numerous eyes. All of it helps somebody to see actuality in larger depth, to look at extra carefully the character of his expertise. The faces are so small that they sit comfortably within the palm of my hand. Daily, eyes, eyes, and extra eyes.


By means of her private information of the fundamentals, and her eventual development as a mentor in her personal proper, Leslie’s subsequent improvement as a instructor displays the educational about life and tailoring she underwent a long time in the past. For instance, she based the Stitching Buddhas® Digital Apprentice Program in 2008, an operator that connects college students from many nations and everywhere in the United States to be taught, for six months, Tibetan ornament (271). Not everybody will go to Nepal, India and Tibet on a life-changing journey. Few can have the dedication, time, and drive to grasp such a self-discipline as Leslie did. Nonetheless, as its college students progress in prowess, they’ll determine whether or not to enter a membership program that can provide tasks of accelerating problem till they’ve accomplished, over a interval of some years, Thanks Identical to their instructor.

Threads of Awakening It’s a e book with a number of threads, so to talk, every of which must be gently tugged to see the place it leads. There’s a story that can inform the story of a Western-born lady who finds her religious path after a gradual journey that results in a basic rearrangement of her life’s priorities. There may be one other story a few skilled lady who plunged into the unfamiliar world of stitching and thread, grew to become intimately acquainted with it, and reinvented herself with a brand new calling. They’re all a part of the identical material, though they’ve their very own distinctive shades and vibrant colours. Leslie’s religious autobiography could technically be all about itself, however her elegant and insightful presentation stimulates reflection on our travels, no matter they might be.

Be a part of Leslie in a Zoom discuss on Aug 28 18:00 PST, “Thread of Awakening: when Your Detour is Your Life’s Path” as she discusses her upcoming e book Threads of Awakening: An American Lady’s Journey to the Sacred Artwork of Tibetan Weaving (2022).

see extra

The Strings of Awakening: Leslie Rinchen Wongmo

Associated Options of BDG

Tara: a robust feminine pressure within the Buddhist pantheon