RARE SILK (III): Weaving Instructions


Hapticality, or Love by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney (from Fantasy in the Hold)

Ntangu-Tandu-Kolo: The Bantu Kongo Concept of Time by K.K. Bunseki Fu-Kiau (from Time in the Black Experience)

Evidence by Alexis Pauline Gumbs (from Octavia’s Brood)


Link to 41min soundtrack by Zakia Sewell and light the white sage bundle


In your kit, you should have:

  • Warped circle loom
  • Tapestry needle
  • Thread / yarn for weaving
  • Beads for embroidery

You can also add anything else that you would like to include, such as beads or yarn.

The dikenga dia Kongo

“Time is cyclical, and all creations, institutions, and systems undergo a four-stage cyclical process…”

Ntangu-Tandu-Kolo: The Bantu-Kongo Concept of Time by K.K. Bunseki Fu-Kiau (from Time in the Black Experience)

“Kalunga is a central concept of regional BaKongo cosmology, forming part of the dikenga sign – which ‘marks the crossroads, the tomb, the parting of ways… The dikenga, when drawn, becomes a template of the Kongo altar, a cross within a circle. The vertical axis, the ‘power line’, connects od above with the dead below. The horizontal axis, the ‘kalunga line’, marks the water(y) boundary between the living and the dead.” (cited in Kiddy 2000:54)

Repercussions: Ethnographic enquiries into rhythm, spirit and ancestrality in maracatu de nacio and Candomble by Lizzie Ogle (2020)


Thinking through the reading above about the Kalunga and Dikenga (Bantu Cosmogram), I invite you to create a circular weaving that explores a four stage process of ‘the dams of time’, one you are going through, have been through or wish to move towards and through in the future. You are weaving in spirals around the circular loom, each time passing through the life cycle of a moment or living the same moment into infinity. While weaving, you can also focus back and forth on one quarter section, allow each quarter to bleed rhythmically into the next or leave a section empty. Think about the narrative you’re weaving, whether it speaks of an ease of flow, a lightness of movement, a sticky and stifled energy, or a rush that pushes you through each stage. Use different textures of thread and yarn throughout, soft or rough, silky or furry to create a haptic sensibility, think about how the piece would feel and flow if touched without being able to see it, think about the textures the yarns communicate. Try to work with the flow of your own rhythm and intention without too clearly defining what the piece will look like at the end.

You can use any of the materials provided but also add your own charms, threads, scents and meanings… anything that will hold your feelings. I’ve provided some visual examples of circular weavings and visual interpretations of the Dikenga, but play, be loose and feel free.**

Instructions for circle loom weaving

Here are the instructions to start your weaving, take your time and enjoy at your own pace:

1.Lay your tools and materials out in front of you.

2. Start the soundtrack and light the white sage bundle.

3. Close your eyes and take a moment (or three).

4. Breathe, deeply and try to lower the frequency of your breath.

5. Begin.

6. Adjust the weaving to center and straighten out the warp threads.

4. And choose a yarn or thread you’d like for the center and cut a piece about 24 inches or so.

5. Thread your tapestry needle.

6. To start weaving, bring up the needle from back to front and begin creating a criss-cross pattern in the center.

7. Once the center is “filed in”, you can begin weaving, anticlockwise, around the center.

8. With your needle and same yarn, come up from the back and work the needle over, under, over, under, over etc all the way around.

9. After each completed pass around the circle, snug the threads in toward the center before starting a new pass.

10. Continue working around, changing colors as often as you like until you fill the hoop.

11. If you want groups of colour, try working back and forth in rows within each quarter section.

12. You can also add beads, charms and lots more for additional texture.

13. When finished, tie off the last strand with a secure knot.

** Your weaving will form part of a wearable tapestry, that is an attempt to encapsulate the Dikenga, multiple dams of time, love, joy and forward motion as a response to Maud Sulter’s Syrcas (1993) while thinking through Julius Eastman’s Stay On It and the feeling the music gives after the repeated call to action of being slowly dredged up from the depths of the sea to the soft tambourine embrace of the shore.

Please post your weavings back to Rule of Threes Arts, Studio 17, 8 School Ln, Liverpool L1 3BX.