“The nagual is the part of us which we do not deal with at all ... At the time of birth, and for a while after, we are all nagual. We sense, then that in order to function we need a counterpart to what we have. The tonal is missing and that gives us, from the very beginning, a feeling of incompleteness. Then the tonal starts to develop and it becomes utterly important to our functioning, so important that it opaques the shine of the nagual, it overwhelms it. From the moment we become all tonal we do nothing else but to increment that old feeling of incompleteness which accompanies us from the moment of our birth and whichs tells us constantly that there is another part to give us completeness”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Kumiko Unfolding – Part 5: Asa-no-ha


Once I had workable kumiko strips I gladly turned to making an asa-no-ha pattern. I spoiled two sets of kumiko strips before I got the marking and cutting decently done.

As I was doing this I felt that I had developed an attachment to the kumiko strips. They were difficult to create and felt like a precious resource and that put me into a kind of scarcity relationship with them. I had to work through that. I had to allow myself to try and fail, to learn through doing.

My third attempt led to an acceptable jigumi (the basic grid in which the pattern is created). Here is the jigumi with diagonals already added to it:

A couple of hours later I was looking at my first complete asa-no-ha pattern:

Making this first pattern (like many other following steps) made me better appreciate the need for precision. Consistent precision in early steps (such as milling kumiko strips) leads to ease and peace in later steps. All of which contributes to a better quality pattern.

When I started this experiment I had a notion that precision was about my skill and effort … and it is … but in a subtle and indirect way. For example, I worked hard at trying to cut strips better, but my efforts were not yielding better results. I came to appreciate that skill was not just about how I hold and move a saw … which despite my best efforts kept following the grain pattern. Using a jig that guided the saw and kept it aligned was a better investment of my effort. A good combination of tools, techniques and process lead to better outcomes with less effort.

I keep coming back to this video as an inspiring example of smart and peaceful work. In it the maker is using a jig to make cuts that yield repeatable and reliable results (instead of a lot of measuring, cutting, adjusting … fiddling).

For me, mastery in this video is exemplified in the unspoken “environment” that makes such work possible:

  • knowing and having a constant dimension of jigumi (the grid that is filled out).
  • knowing and having constant dimensions of kumiko strips to match the jigumi.
  • considering how to get materials in & out of the jig.
  • a familiarity and sensitivity to the way the saw cuts through the material … so that the work surface is barely scratched!

The “genius” comes not so much from the maker but from the relationship and mastery with his surroundings. Creating processes, tools and techniques that, at every step of the way, lead to … peaceful making:

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