White Samite, Mystical, Wonderful

 

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This abstract image reminds me of a scene in the Grail legend, when the vessel, covered in white samite, is reverently carried aloft through the Great Hall.

The words, ‘Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,’ come from Tennyson’s poem Morte d’ Arthur , and was a line I heard but couldn’t see: something not of my time and wasted on me in high school English class.

Many years later, on a raw, winter’s day in Cornwall,  I stood at the edge of Dozmary pool, listening to Canadian Ed Kylie telling the story of King Arthur’s death based on Tennyson’s poem. This was the  place where Excalibur was said to have been returned to the Lady of the Lake. In my minds’s eye, I did see the glittering sword flung, turning, end over end through the air. The arm I imagined coming up was pudgy and chilled pink.  All I could see of the ‘samite’ was a draped, white, sodden bedsheet. I couldn’t see more of the story for the cold.

Wikiwand can give me interesting facts about samite. It was the most important silk weave of Byzantium, reserved for kings and church leaders. But, clothing is such a personal, fragile artefact. I like to feel fabrics. Mostly, it’s the colour and patterns, the warp and weft that draws me in. I have only poured over many fascinating remnants under glass in museums – from christening gowns, to shawls and mummies.

Visualising the colour and texture of fabrics and matching these to the clothing characters wear helps make them, and the story, more visual, more believable, more memorable.

The ‘fabric’ in this image might not only be white Samite, but also

  • a cloak for the wicked lead in Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen.’
  • the stone horse’s hide in the Asian folk tale about a magic brocade, when the horse is magically brought to life.
  • Sleeping Beauty’s coverlet
  • the magic tablecloth Mannannan spread before Cormac when he was in the Land of Faery
  • a dress for the woman in the moon
  • What do you imagine?

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This week’s Photo Challenge was to turn the concrete and familiar into something new and mysterious.

Sources: Poem – Morte d’Arthur, http://www.bartleby.com/42/637.html

Wikiwand entry’Samite,’ https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Samite

All text (except that in italics) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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