“I hear the horses of desire
go right to the surgeon….” ~ D. Bonta
If you want to buy a mat from the women weavers of the native Higaonon tribe, this is what you need to know: they don’t do PayPal, e-Bay, Craig’s List; they don’t do debit or credit cards. It may take two to three months to receive your order, depending on a number of factors, including whether or not there have been hurricanes or floods— which may have affected the availability of buri, pandan, tikog, or seagrass fronds. The leaves need to be gathered, cleaned, bundled; and in some cases stripped of thorns. Then they are sun-dried or air dried, made pliable with rhythmic beating, rolled then shredded into widths for weaving. Each weaver will sit on her haunches many hours in the sun, in the shade, in her house, adding the colors of the rooster’s feathers or an embroidered skirt, the salt-and-toffee smells of well-aged leaves. Her mother taught her this, or her grandmother, and the great-grandmother before that. There is no book of patterns, only the ripple of water, of wind, of rough scythes cutting through sparse grain. You will need to find a trusted courier to bring you the finished mat, and bring them the cash you will pay. You will not find this at Ikea or Exotic Home. Each piece is heirloom quality, each pattern never to be repeated. Which reminds me of how, the other night at dinner, I listened to our host’s friend tell the story of how at forty, she did not own a piece of silver or crystal, unlike other wives whose mothers handed down their prized sets; but in ten years, she had bought close to seven hundred pieces in all, some from Scotland, for a ridiculous amount of money: two or three patterns, flutes, water glasses, wine glasses, sherry glasses… And do you know, she said, waving her teaspoon in the air, that if you resold one of these today, it would fetch you only three dollars? She shook her head: It isn’t the same world anymore.
In response to Via Negativa: Self-medication.