The Red Thread


When I wrote about the panel shown above, I mentioned the red thread.  I thought it might be worth describing it in a bit more detail.

It is a red thread which in other cultures binds us all together in one-life sustaining network or ‘entanglement’ or ‘enmeshment’ to use vocabulary of Tim Ingold (2007); it is a  red thread which binds us to all those we will meet and who will be significant to us in our lifetimes.  In the Eastern tradition we are bound to our life partners by a red thread tied around our ankles or fingers.  There is no escaping the tie.  In one Japanese story a young man encounters a wise old elder out on the road.  The old man tells the boy that he will show him his future wife in the next village.  When they reach the village they see a young girl.  Our hero has no interest in marriage, being far too young, and interested in anything but girls.  Instead of making his courtship dance, he throws a stone at the girl and goes on his way.  Several years later his parents arrange his marriage which is done according to all the rites.  The bride is veiled.  The two have never met.  Fearing the worst, he is led into the bedchamber where his bride sits turned away from him.  He lifts her veil and discovers she is, of course, beautiful except for a strange decorated patch over her eyebrow.  When, as is his right on his wedding night he peels this back, it reveals a small scar, put there, years before, she says, by a wild boy throwing a stone at her.

I really like this idea, and use it quite a lot in my work.  I love to use red so it isn’t that difficult to work in.



Ingold, Tim (2007) Lines: a brief history. London: Routledge.

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