Table of Contents - Volume 10, number 3 (September 2005) - 24 pages
An experienced string figure artist, after seeing an attractive design sketched on paper or displayed on someone’s hands, can devise a method for making the figure. ISFA member Kazuo Kamiya is, without doubt, an artist of this caliber.
In this issue of String Figure Magazine, we celebrate his skills by illustrating some of the simple methods he devised for making figures that closely resemble the rather difficult Inuit figure called ‘Two Fawns’. We also examine his clever methods for making the corresponding one-handed versions.
But first, we tackle the parent figure:
Inuit string figures that represent two animals often have counterparts that represent only one animal. For example, ‘Two Mammoths’ has a counterpart called ‘One Mammoth’ (which we illustrated in the December 1999 issue of String Figure Magazine).
As noted by Guy Mary-Rousselière in his book, the Inuit of Pelly Bay make ‘One Fawn’ by doing steps 1, 2, and 6 of ‘Two Fawns’ with both hands, and steps 3, 4, and 5 with the left hand only. But in order to reveal the final pattern the performer needs to rotate the remaining right hand loop a full turn away to undo an annoying twist.
Kazuo Kamiya’s reworked method eliminates the unwanted twist by introducing a countertwist at the beginning. He also eliminates the L2 loop to simplify the weaving process.
Several years ago ISFA member Martin Probert coined the term homeomorph (‘similar shape’) to describe string figures that have seemingly identical final patterns but different string crossings.
‘One Puppy’ is a homeomorph of ‘One Fawn’. Despite the similarity of these two patterns, their methods of manufacture are very different. ‘One Puppy’ utilizes a novel technique called a “Double Navajo” in which one loop is lifted over a second loop twice in succession.
‘Two Puppies’ is the bilateral equivalent of ‘One Puppy’. Since both hands act in unison, a modified version of Position 1 is no longer required. However, when performing the movements, fingers must pass over the 2 loop, which is absent when the figure is formed by the left hand only.
‘One Dog’ is yet another homeomorph of ‘One Fawn’. Like ‘One Puppy’, its method of manufacture is significantly different.
Nearly a century ago when anthropologists became interested in using string figures to trace the migration of indigenous peoples, they often compared final designs without bothering to compare individual string crossings or construction methods. Today we realize that superficial comparisons of this sort are ludicrous because of independent invention: a skilled string figure artist (like Kazuo Kamiya!) can easily devise one or more methods for making a design they find attractive.
Upon mastering ‘One Dog’ you should be able to devise a method for making ‘Two Dogs’ based on knowledge you gained while learning to make ‘One Puppy’ and ‘Two Puppies’. If and when you succeed, you are one step closer to becoming a string figure artist!
Now that you’ve mastered ‘One Dog’, can you make ‘Two Dogs’ without having to follow step-by-step illustrations?
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