Shimenawa are lengths of rice straw or hemp rope used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion of Japan and used to define sacred space. Shimenawa vary in diameter from a few centimeters to several meters, and are often seen festooned with ‘shide’ – traditional paper streamers.
We presented a hands-on –Shimenawa– workshop via Zoom with the artist Rimiko Berreman. She showcased local Tule that she collected in California.
For the Pomo and Miwok tribes, tule is often used in ceremonial head pieces and dance costumes. It is also used in making houses, clothing, mats, baskets, and tools. Rimiko is a board member of The Miwok Archeological Preserve of Marin. She has been working with tule since 2004, honoring the Native American tradition of making baskets, boats, “Kotcha” (house) and, rope. Rimiko’s devotion to both Japanese and Indigenous art forms has inspired this event.
Rimiko has created a workshop especially for us showcasing her step-by-step method using the unique characteristics of tule. When tule is dry, it is fragile but when it is wet, it feels similar to leather. While traditional Shimenawa rice straw weaving requires quite a bit of skill, we are able to utilize tule and its properties to easily create our own Shimenawa piece.
Shimenawa is seen in Japanese Shinto Shrines at the altar, surrounding rocks, and trees in presentation of sacred space. It is also often used in the home to welcome the New Year.
Please visit our store page to purchase Shimenawa.