Salut ! We are some of the Sewn Signs, one of the many visual languages used across cultures.

In 2012 Ioana gave us back our voice because indeed we can speak about those who gave us shape and meaning. And it’s crucial to talk now, as the world is at a crossroad.

We are in a big family, together with Kanji characters, the hieroglyphs, the traffic signs, the logos and even with the emoticons in your smartphones. As simple drawings, we don’t have any magical powers. But if you invest in us with a certain meaning or set of values, you can use us as visual matras when you need.

While characters are visual expressions of sounds, we are not so easy.
It’s important that you understand that we are a convention. It’s very difficult for you to figure out what we represented for people of the past because many aspects of your life differ greatly from their customs.

But one thing is for sure: we don’t depict nature in a photographic manner, we are rather a code of laws that keeps the world functioning. We can also carry out your message, once you learn our grammar and the art of needlework.

Other sewn symbols are often motifs we pick up from nature. Symbols of plants and animals, and all living things inhabiting our earth, below and above us, that we should strive to understand and respect. Our ancestors believed that beyond our realm there are many other worlds and life-forms, like fairies and angels. And though our research is based on science now, we continue to explore the unknown. Before maps, compasses and calendars, people would use the night sky as their guide. The stars and their movements also helped farmers sync their work to nature’s rhythm. Shepherds and explorers also oriented themselves by tracking fixed stars. Meanwhile, these days it’s practically impossible to get lost with so many maps and modes of tracking time. You can still pick your fixed star, a symbol that reminds you to stay on track and follow your goal. There might be dangers, bad friends or deceit along your journey, but the symbol of the protecting eye can remind you to tread lightly and see clearly between good and evil. The bee and the ant are symbols for teamwork. They remind us to work smart and to communicate, to appreciate our peers and look out for the whole community. Birds are portrayed as the messengers between our worlds. They symbolize freedom of the soul and remind us to strive higher and follow our intuition. 

To explore and think outside the box, moving past our limitations and prejudices. The sun teaches us how to plan our time and use our energy wisely. The grain will remind you of abundance and harvest, of multiplying your achievements and investing back into yourself. The Tree of life shows us we have steady roots, allowing us to grow stronger, supported by our ancestors. Sometimes your heritage can be a great spiritual treasure. Work that honors the earth, with care, trust and hope will be rewarded. But even though nature is generous, people become greedy. They sabotage the soil with harmful substances and take more than they need, damaging our whole ecosystem and causing sickness and extinction. We have a symbol for this too. Wilting and fading away may seem sad, if we look at it as the death of something. But this is the state that restarts the normal cycle of life. It brings us back to nature’s essential rhythm. A rhythm we can understand by observing plants. A wilting flower with its falling petals may seem dead, but it’s quite the opposite. The flower’s life force has been transferred into its seeds, which will bring rebirth when the spring comes.

 

Please keep in mind that the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation is a complex science: semiotics. If you want to discover more about “The Language of The Goddess”, read Marjia Gimbutas’ book.

THE STAR

Bună, ce faci ? If you took the brave decision to follow what seems a distant dream, take me with you. I’m the North Star and people of the past used me as a fixed landmark, not to get lost. For the ancient sailors, for the nomadic shepherds who used to travel throughout the desert at night, when it was cool, for the caravans with merchants, I was the only thing they could rely on on the sky-map. They honored me and spread my symbol all over the world in their paths. From the north of Africa, to Anatolia, through the Balkans, up to Norway, I am to be found everywhere they went. Now you have GPS and you can locate all your smart devices. But you still need me. Sometimes you feel lost, undecided and when nothing else helps, follow me to keep the right path.

THE EYE

Hi, nice to see you ! I’m the eye. Wear me if you want to see what’s not visible for others. Stay always on guard, paying attention to your gut feeling. With empathy and intuition you can understand beyond appearances. Sometimes you need to see the whole picture from above. Only this way you can make the best decisions, with objectivity. Now you have CCTV’s to capture wrongs and evil intentions. But people of the past thought we need to be careful and catch the “unseen demons” too. Such an evil entity is envy, which can lead to hate and violence. There is a thin border between admiration and ill will. If you see something you appreciate in others, be happy for them and have a better look at the way you’ve been blessed already.

THE SUN

I’m the sun and I’m always with you, even from beyond the clouds. I’ll bring light, I promise. And the light brings truth, knowledge, order and peace. When it’s sunny in your mind, you can clearly see your priorities and you leave aside, in the shadow, everything that makes you waste time. I’m your time planner. Follow me and learn, study, have fun and rest as I do. Go to sleep when I do and wake up with me 🙂 The people of the past worshiped me. Now you have electricity and heating, but they had to plan every single activity depending on me. The farmers noticed my journey happens in cycles and they measured it with instruments like clocks and calendars. They marked the most important moments, like the equinox for spring and autumn, the summer and the winter solstice. Sol means sun, you know ? 🙂 Maybe you too, still celebrate together with me and your community, with amazing ceremonies.

THE BIRD

Hi, feel free to use me, I am the symbol for freedom. Freedom is the most precious gift you can offer yourself and your dear ones. Look, there are so many faces of fear: fear of the unknown, fear of prejudices, fear of living, fear of death, fear of making mistakes, even fear of flying. Put your trust in me and break free from fears. I’ll take you high and far from all these. Yes, ok, now you have supersonic planes and rockets and sky is no longer the limit. But this limit was actually never a problem. You still need me to travel between realms. Some cultures still represent new born babies as being brought by a bird. They forgot to mention that I’m also here to take the souls further into their travels. So, fasten your seat belt and let your mind wander.

THE RAM’S HORNS

I’m the symbol for power. If you become fully aware of your strength and if you learned to control it, take me and wear me. Yes, it’s brute force, but in order to build up those muscles, you need mental strength. Practice a sport, go to gym, to pilates, to dance, run, walk. Every weight on your shoulders will become easier. You need mental strength to keep your body in shape. Inactivity is one of the biggest modern enemies. People of the past used my symbol to illustrate the idea of fair fight and competition, in winning a friendly fight or even winning a bride and they were inspired by the rams. They too fight, but only to establish hierarchies.

THE WEAT

Hi, I am the ear of wheat. Take me and learn about what, why, when and how much you need to eat. I’m a symbol for plenty, for wealth, but please don't get me wrong. Cook your own meals. Treasure all the gifts mother earth is preparing for you according to the region and with the season. Remember to be grateful for the food. Share food with others as is the custom in your culture. For example, take the old custom in Romania. You have to share to others before eating yourself these gifts from nature: cherries, cucumbers, green apples, grapes and funeral cakes (sweet wheat with walnuts and lemon zest or rice-milk pudding). Bake special loaf coils for sharing, along with red wine and lightened candles. Sprinkle crumbles on the ground, not only ants and birds will be happy, but the ancestors too. They are underneath and they acknowledge your generosity. They will plead to Mother Earth to be generous to you too, if they see you can control your greed and you don’t waste food. I’m with you from birth to death and beyond, in all important celebrations. I take the intricate shape of ritual bread and I bring all elements together on your table: the earth, the sun, the wind, the water and the fire.

THE EARTH

I’m The Great Mother Earth. Of course I’m neither flat nor square. But after people came out with this idea of private property and they invented fences, they only cared for their plot. They then invented geometry to measure me and they also celebrated my fertility. This is my special power, to multiply the seeds farmers entrust me with for future crops. The first agrarian communities decided to settle down and to entrust me with the bodies of their dear ones too, keeping the hope that I’ll be able to give them a new life too. If you go to the Eretz Land of Israel Museum, you will see the prehistoric ossuaries they created were the same as the granaries. This story is connected with the story of the ear of wheat. I have a special place on the sleeves of the Romanian shirts but for thousands of years, women of Old Europe have woven my symbol on their aprons. I am never empty: they depict me with seeds or flowers.

THE DISPUTE

Hei, my name doesn’t make me right. I’m not here as a symbol for a conflict, I’m here to illustrate the idea of balance and how opposites can attract and function together. Yes, like a European sign for Yin & Yang. Paired alongside each other, both of equal importance, the two halves can stand in contrast or conflict, but they represent two parts of a greater whole. The balance between light and darkness, cold and warmth, feminine and masculine can be interpreted the same way. The harmony between old and new, tradition and innovation, selfishness and selflessness, offering and receiving, telling and listening. Measuring everything just right, alternating these elements, we create change and keep the world moving forward. People of the past realized the importance of this measure in nature in all its forms. Any instability could bring climate fluctuations, like droughts or floods, jeopardizing their crops, thus their own existence. The big balance of this world is your responsibility too.

THE SPINNER

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, good morning ! If you managed to understand what time is and what’s its value, wear me. Let me rewind from the beginning: when the world was created, all the 4 winds wanted to rule it and decided to fight. They needed bodies so they turned into horses. They harnessed themselves to the world and each of them started to pull into his direction: north, east, south and west. Since they had equal powers, none could win and they ended up rotating the world endlessly. This movement is the engine of our world, symbolized by the wheel. This “spiral” portrayal was inspired by the naturally occurring rotations of water and air currents. In Romania we have 4 clearly defined seasons. And this is why you often find my four arms enriched with flowers that show the growth, the harvest, the decay and the hibernation of nature during one year round.

THE HOOK

Hi, if I look familiar to you already it is because I’m celebrated in many cultures and I have many names. I’m the “S”, the “2” and “the shepherd’s hook”. I look like the graphic representation for infinite because I’m the symbol for infinite regeneration. According to the technique used, I might appear simplified: I am the double spiral, that represents the umbilical cord. Many thousands of years ago, some people carved me inside of a cave, connecting the belly of an antelope with her newborn calf. Yes, I’m simplified in embroidery but you’ll spot me easily, at my best, in silver jewels, on ceramic or on sheep-skin vests. I’m even found in the ritual bread and people from the Balkans bake pies in the shape of spirals too. In Romania the pie is called “placinta”. From North of Africa silver jewels to the celtic tombstones, I keep regenerating myself and I hope I’ll stay with you until the end of time.

THE BUD

Hi, I’m the bud and you think I’m an easy one, but, hei, wait. Of course I illustrate the youth, the freshness and genuine beauty. But I’m also here to remind you it’s all going to fade away. I’m celebrated precisely because I’m so temporary. I’m here to enrich the bridal shirts. They will be worn for the wedding day but also later on, on the day of the great departure. If you see me pointing up, I am a sign of growth. If you see me pointing down, I am a sign of decay which is only the other face of growth. In Japanese culture the cherry blossoms are also celebrated for their ephemeral beauty. The short-lived blooming is a reminder that we should appreciate beauty before it’s gone. At the same time the cherry blossoms are associated with acceptance of mortality. It’s hard to imagine that cultures of such distant countries like Romania and Japan would have anything in common. But as long as people live in harmony with nature, trying to understand it and not defy it, they think alike and speak the same language.

THE IMMORTELLE

I’m a humble flower with 4 petals but I represent a great treasure. You can call me: Previoara, you can call me Siminoc, or Immortelle or Nemurele. Sometimes you can find me depicted in a flower-pot but you know I keep my shape and color even when I am dry. Longevity and good health is not always a matter of luck. Back in the times when women had to find cure in the meadows, they also knew to appreciate the gift of health. They knew that the best time to collect plants was around the summer solstice. They knew to pick only what they needed: flowers or leaves. In case they needed to pick the roots too, they were “paying” the earth with gifts: salt or honey or an egg in order to help the regenerative process. Some cultures celebrate good-looking flowers. Romanian women chose to honor those who are beautiful through their powers to give flavor, spice, and well-being. Being able to transmit knowledge and experience down several generations is a great treasure. And in our memories, this wisdom is protected, as a precious seed.

THE WANDERING PATH

Welcome 🙂 I am the symbol for the big, intricate journey of the soul with all the ups (births) and downs (deaths), rhythmically going above the ground and under the ground. Do I remind you of the ancient Greek legend of Demetra and her daughter, Cora? Well, I am a similar metaphor. I’m a visual reassurance. The ancestors embraced death as a natural stage of life. They believed their souls to be immortal, simply passing from one realm into another, and another until the end of time. May you leave flowers behind, at every step, as good deeds and may you encounter and appreciate the beauty for every step you take ahead.

THE BEE

HI, I’m quite busy so I will be brief. Work organized. Work hard. Make honey.

Sewn Signs, or "Semne Cusute," is a notable project initiated in 2012, by Ioana Corduneanu

Revolving around the Romanian traditional shirt known as "cămașa cu altiță."

Do you have questions?

asociatiasemnecusute@gmail.com 

cursurisemnecusute@gmail.com 

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