December 09, 2010

Old Believers Film

At the 8:26 mark of the film, Old Believers by Margaret Hixon, on the Folkstreams website, a woman weaves a belt using cards or tablets.  The documentary was filmed in the early 1980s, at the same time as the research for Burnham's Unlike the Lilies was done.  The weaver is from a different people group, but there are similarities.

She talks, through a translator, for two minutes as she works.  She talks about the belts' function in weddings as part of customary gift exchanges, and the belts' religious importance.  She names different belt weaving techniques.  She describes how she learned to weave from her mother, and discusses her difficulty in getting her grandchildren to learn from her.  She talks about the correlation between self-sufficiency and economic necessity:
There are many Russian people here [Oregon], and nobody knows how to weave belts.  In general they work in factories and it's hard.  The young now cannot weave.  It's only the old.  And furthermore, the young aren't interested.  They can work one day and earn enough money to buy two belts.  In China everyone wove belts for himself.  When we went to Brasil, people started to get, well, a little better off.  And when there's money, it's better to buy than to make it yourself, right?  And then we came to America.  People really started getting rich.  In America everybody buys their belts.
It's fascinating to watch her turn the cards.  She beats the weft in place with the blunt side of a large kitchen knife.  The weaver uses a wooden tool to attach the belt she is weaving to the sash or belt she is wearing.  I am trying to figure out how it works.

There is also a short clip of card weaving at the 3:10 mark in the film.

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