Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reveal Day at The Material Mavens: My Bird of the South

     My international 12" x 12" quilt group reveal quilts on a chosen theme every other month. Today is Reveal Day; and I just posted my Bird of the South. Each member chooses a topic for the group to tackle."South" was a tough theme. I posted the following and look forward to seeing what everyone else came up with...whether things "go South," birds flying South, snowbirds, or something else.
Click to enlarge

      Recently, before the South challenge, I worked on a round robin quilt which had a mariner’s compass as the beginning. In no time, I found myself thinking South in re to a Chinese compass and learned that astronomy in China is different than in the Western World. For a long time, South for the Chinese was placed at the top of the compass:  South, being the direction where the sun reached its highest elevation, is more important than North, and was considered the reference direction on maps. The ancient Chinese grouped the stars into Chinese constellations very different from the modern Western constellations which the International Astronomical Union based on Greco-Roman astronomy.
      The Vermillion bird of the South, or Red-bird of Summer, is one of the Four (or five) Symbols of the Chinese constellations and is a mythological spirit creature. It is not to be confused with the Phoenix of Western mythology. It is an elegant and noble bird in appearance and behavior. Its seven mansions or moon stations are Well, Ghost, Willow, Star, Extended Net, Wings and Chariot which in the future I may crochet or bead into this sky. These constellations, when strung out almost look like the appliqued Fire Bird which is shaped from many different animal parts and associated with good fortune.


  1. Since I've commented on this quilt on the Material Mavens blog, I won't repeat myself, except to say that I think this quilt is stunning! Too, the information I learned from your narrative about the Chinese compass is
    fascinating. What I would love to see you do is a larger version of this quilt. Leave this little 12 x 12 as is and do a bigger one, in which you can include the seven mansions or moon stations. Think about it!

  2. Thanks for the history about the Chinese compass based on their take on astronomy and their reason for having South at the top of the compass. I echo Alice's comment about thinking about doing a larger version and including the mansions or moon stations. Regardless, I think this is most appealing!!!

  3. This is a gorgeous piece of work. I second the idea of revisiting this image, but in a larger scale. My favorite kind of post - beautiful work, with history and literature thrown in for good measure. Way to go!

  4. Linda, there are 10 comments on this quilt over at The Material Mavens