Table of Contents - Volume 5, number 4 (December 2000) - 24 pages
Realistic but simple action figures tend to be the most popular with children. Here's a great example devised by ISFA member Axel Reichert. With it, you can actually hear a heart beating!
Once formed, the maker plucks the strings that run from the right hand to the chin. If the two strings are released in rapid succession, the maker hears the sound of a beating heart: th-thump, th-thump, th-thump...
Last month’s issue featured a seven-diamond net figure from Papua New Guinea called ‘Fire.’ It closely resembles a Hawaiian figure called ‘Night’ which appeared in the December 1997 issue of String Figure Magazine, but is made using an entirely different method.
Here’s yet another method for making a seven-diamond net, this time from West Africa. The native name for this figure is Pang-pa-ta, a net mask placed over the face at certain dances. Surprisingly, its method of manufacture closely resembles a method gathered by Will Wirt in Tibet!
Throughout the world seven-diamond nets are often transformed into additional figures. For example, in Hawaii ‘Night’ is transformed into ‘Twinkling Star’ (see the December 1997 issue of String Figure Magazine). In Nigeria, ‘Face Mask’ is transformed into ‘Fufu Stick’, which most readers will recognize as the ever-popular ‘Crow’s Feet’.
Fufu is the starch staple of the Nigerian diet: If you’re American, you probably eat bread every day; if you’re Asian you eat rice; but if you’re Nigerian, you eat fufu! It’s not very tasty, but thousands of Nigerians thrive on it.
Fufu is made by boiling African yams or cassava roots, then pounding them with a pestle in a giant wooden mortar until a dough-like mass results. The pestle, a stout wooden pole with a knob at one or both ends, is known as a ‘fufu stick’.
In the previous example we saw how a net figure can be transformed into ‘Crow’s Feet’. In this example we see how ‘Crow’s Feet’ can be transformed into two additional designs.
This delightful series was collected by ISFA member Axel Reichert in July of 2000 at a World Expo held in Hannover, Germany. Axel’s Nigerian informant called the first figure ‘Pestle’ (fufu stick) and the second figure ‘Moon’. He had no name for the third figure, but Axel’s pupils all agreed that it resembled the face of a famous cartoon character.
Nearly a century ago Caroline Furness Jayne published methods for making 27 Navajo string figures. Everyone assumed her collection was comprehensive, but last year Will Wirt was able to collect several dozen additional figures. ‘Two Arrowheads’ is one of them.
The opening movements of this figure closely resemble those of the Pueblo Indian ‘Brush House’. The final movements are borrowed from the Navajo figure ‘Lizard’. Both appear in Jayne’s book.
The Inuit (Eskimos) are primarily coast dwellers, living on sea mammals. But occasionally they migrate a short distance up rivers where they establish villages and travel by means of canoe. This string figure, gathered from the Inuit of Mamtrelich village on the Kuskokwim river, is a realistic portrayal of a canoe paddle.
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