1996-2001 MUKHRA/TUKRA/CHAKRADAR IN TINTAL & RUPAKTAL

1996-2001 MUKHRA/TUKRA/CHAKRADAR IN TINTAL & RUPAKTAL

Single strand Persian wool; double strand Appleton wool; lace wool, partly Kashmir; silk yarn; rayon yarn; cotton and viscose yarn; cotton, silver and gold thread on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 154,548 stitches

Dimensions: 18 x 26 ½ in.

In North Indian Classical music, a Mukhra is a short introductory piece on the tabla, ending in a tihai. A tihai is a compositional ending element repeated three times. A Tukra, which also ends with a tihai, is played later in a performance. A Chakradar can be similar to either of these compositions and the whole of the composition is repeated three times.

Using repetition and variation, which is also basic to needlepointing, this work explores musical "color" and patterns as well as light, shadow, and transparency. This piece has a depth of field and three dimensional quality, perhaps unique in needlepoint compositions.

The complexity of this piece is astonishing. Note, for example, the camels walking on a border of golden sand.

Haag explains:

"Why camels? Many talas of North Indian Classical music are based on the sounds heard in nature. Tradition has it that the rolling rhythm of Rupaktal is based on the walk of the camel. Note that each of the camels carries a pack, covered with a decorative carpet as usually would have been the case as they walked along the Silk Road through the deserts of Asia.

"At the center of the top stands the blue Lord Krishna with his flute, leading the camels. Next to him sits the drummer. The background of the camels contains repetitions of a stylized version of the Gordian Knot, a reference to Alexander the Great who, presented with the original Gordian Knot, sliced through it with his sword. The Gordian Knot's inclusion here alludes to Alexander's 4th century B.C. incursion into India (an event un-noticed in Indian history -- until Westerners began to write that history).

"The camels proceed in groups of seven, echoing the beat of Rupaktal. Crossing the lower camel border to the left is a great OM referring to the original sound. In the middle, Shiva as Nataraja dances the world into existence, a damaru (drum -- the symbol of creation) held in his right hand."

1981-1991 & 1995 KALACHAKRA

1981-1991 & 1995 KALACHAKRA

Single strand Persian wool, gold thread on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 107,254 stitches

Dimensions: 24 3/4 x 13 3/8 in.

The central design in KALACHAKRA is an adaptation of The All Powerful Ten Symbol associated with the Kalachakra Initiation of Tibetan Buddhism. The Egyptian Eyes (utats) of Horus peer over the top of The Ten Symbol's lintel. The Ten Symbol in turn lies on a stylized floor plan of the 7th century Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar in Orissa, India. "Thus, the design elements of the KALACHAKRA are brought together to point to the necessity of keeping in mind the whole world, to remember we are, individually and as individual cultures, but parts of that whole, each a pearl in Indra's Net. 'Idam eva Shivam tv(u) idam eva Shivam.'"

1996-2006 THE TEN THATS

1996-2006 THE TEN THATS

Embroidery cotton, lace and Appleton wool, string cotton, gold and silver thread on gray 22 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions, plus embroidered accents.

Approximately 77,000 stitches 

Dimensions: 11 x 14 ¼ in.

THE TEN THATS (pronounced "tots") is a theory meant to account for and simplify an understanding of the hundreds of Ragas in North Indian Classical music.

A large amount of knowledge and reflection on Indian Classical music is contained within the piece. It is also inextricably imbued with ancient Indian spiritual teachings.

One row of the work reads "And this too is Shiva (God). Indeed, this too is Shiva."

This is a work representing more than ten years of thought and application by Haag

1995 KAIDA IN TINTAL, TABLA COVERS

1995 KAIDA IN TINTAL, TABLA COVERS

Baya (left drum) cover:  Single strand Persian wool, double strand Appleton wool, and gold thread on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

 

Approximately 33,216 stitches

Dimensions: 10 1/8 x 10 1/8 in.

Tabla (or Daya, right drum) cover:  Single strand Persian wool, double strand Appleton wool, and gold thread on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

 

Approximately 13,168 stitches

 

Dimensions: 6 3/8 x 6 3/8 in.

 

Haag, a lifelong student of cultures and musical and artistic traditions, studied Indian Classical music with Ali Akbar Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri. Her unique combination of poetic, linguistic, and artistic talents allowed her to translate this most complex music, stitch by stitch, into the visual language of needlepoint pattern.

The design for these drum covers is based on the bols for a "Kaida in Tintal" -- transposed into visual pattern. Each square in the central pattern represents a beat. There are sixteen beats to a line. Each color, the shade of each color, the design, and the direction of each stitch in these tabla covers are "coded" with meaning.

1987-1988 ASIAN DIARY #1, Kundalini

1987-1988 ASIAN DIARY #1, Kundalini

Single strand Persian wool, gold thread on 16 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 77,280 stitches

Dimensions: 17 1/4 x 17 ½ in.

Here is the Kundalini sacred energy rising up in needlepoint form. This design is based on a Tibetan diagram. Note the Sanskrit OMs scattered across its surface.

1995-1996 TUKRA IN TINTAL, TABLA COVERS

1995-1996 TUKRA IN TINTAL, TABLA COVERS

Baya (left drum) cover:  Single strand Persian wool, double strand Appleton wool on 18 mesh canvas.

Approximately 40,100 stitches

Dimensions: 11 1/8 x 11 1/8 in.

Tabla (or Daya, right drum) cover: Single strand Persian Wool, double strand Appleton wool, and rayon on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 13,168 stitches

Dimensions: 6 3/8 x 6 3/8 in.

Tukra means "little piece." The musical Tukra that inspired this set of tabla covers was one of the first Indian Classical music tabla compositions Haag learned to play, this signaling a new direction in her "musical" needlepoints. For the first time Haag stitched the bols in Sanskrit, giving visual representation to sounds and their sequences.

Haag notes: "As I worked with the Sanskrit syllables (in Devanagari), many questions about the complexity of the musical bols were answered, e.g. the similarity of the form of the dha and dhin as syllables (the former struck -- for the theka -- on kinar and the latter struck on sur) is like their similarity as tabla strokes; the differentiation between dhin (played on sur) and din (played on gaab) is represented as entirely different syllables. Thus, the subtlety of differentiation in the pronunciation of Sanskrit, accurately rendered in Devanagari (but not in transliterated English), is reflected in the drum bols."

1991-1992 & 1995 PALIMPSEST

1991-1992 & 1995 PALIMPSEST

Single strand Persian wool, double strand Appleton wool, gold, silver and silk thread on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 67,473 stitches, 424 stitches per square inch

Dimensions: 17 x 12 ¼ in.

This work was inspired by a picture of the South Galactic Pole. The silver/white spots in the blue are not our stars, but other galaxies as seen in a "hole" in our galaxy near the South Galactic Pole. The patterns in the blue sky and first red border are inspired by themes referenced in Haag's KALACHAKRA needlepoint work. Like the page of an ancient manuscript, PALIMPSEST reminds us that many of Haag's complex motifs layer over previous ones.

1988-1989 ASIAN DIARY #2

1988-1989 ASIAN DIARY #2

Single strand Persian wool on 16 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 60,372 stitches

Dimensions: 14 5/8 x 16 1/8 in.

This visual cornucopia served as a sort of memory board for Haag's treks and meditations over a couple of years to the temples and sacred places of Seoul, Hong Kong, Macau, Ban Chiang (Thailand), Kathmandu, and Los Angeles. The center of the piece is a Hindu temple floor plan from a 16th century text.

1975-76 I CHING

1975-76 I CHING

Double strand Persian wool, gold thread on 12 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions, plus bargello in the border.

Approximately 28,728 stitches

Dimensions: 14 x 14 ¼ in.

The pattern is composed of the sixty-four Kua from this ancient Chinese book of divination -- sometimes called the Book of Changes. Each Kua consists of broken and solid lines in sets of six. Here is a needlepoint serving as a sort of master board for a book of divination.

1979 ARMRESTS, FOR 1964 RIVIERA

1979 ARMRESTS, FOR 1964 RIVIERA

Double strand Persian wool on 12 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 22,104 stitches in the pair

Each: 15 x 2 3/4 x 1 in.

A totally improvised pattern exhibiting a subtle tromp l'oeil. At first, the patterns on each armrest for Haag's classic Riviera seem the same, but in fact Haag has playfully varied the proportion of the colors, making each different. Like Native American artists embellishing their saddles with glittering beadwork, Haag chose to adorn her ride with her own handiwork and symbolism.

1982-1987 GREAT-GRANDMOTHER'S LEGACY

1982-1987 GREAT-GRANDMOTHER'S LEGACY

Double strand Persian wool on 14 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 47,736 stitches

Dimensions: 13 5/8 x 17 7/8 in.

Unlike most needlepointers, Haag loved the challenge of running out of a color. Notice the wide green border near the edge is a different color on the right than on the left. In Oriental rug making these "differing dye-lot" colors are known as "abrash" and are considered a distinctive and desirable part of the design. Also note that this needlepoint is almost all borders, another effect borrowed from Oriental rugs.

Haag's first needlepoint use of the word "OM" in Sanskrit was stitched in Devanagari script on a corner of the GREAT GRANDMOTHER'S LEGACY's canvas. Almost all of Haag's later works contain one or more OMs. Indeed, they often became the first stitches she put into a new canvas.

Hindus believe OM is the original sound from which the universe was created. Haag was intrigued by the word/sound and its meaning, about which she notes, "It is not unlike the philosophy embodied in the words from the Christian Bible: 'In the beginning was the word....' Scientists have also discovered that the sound of the universe -- out in space -- is OM."

1994 TINTAL COIN PURSE

1994 TINTAL COIN PURSE

Single strand Persian wool and double strand Appleton wool on 18 mesh canvas, covering both sides of a canvas and plastic coin purse, with metal zipper. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 6,378 stitches

Dimensions: 3 3/4 x 5 ¼ in.

This purse is stitched over an old worn out canvas coin purse from Haag's mother, otherwise to be discarded. The pattern of the purse is made up of various layas (speeds) of Tintal, the most common form of Indian Classical music rhythm. The stitches trace an astonishing range of beats of the Indian drum.

1983 OCTAGONAL BEANBAG

1983 OCTAGONAL BEANBAG

Double strand Persian wool on 12 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 4,050 stitches

Dimensions: 5 5/8 x 5 in.

Here is Haag taking a common object, a bean bag meant to relieve tension, and imbuing it with an almost Heian level of aesthetic. Note the Chinese Longevity symbol -- iconoclastically done in tribal rug colors.

1983-1989 FLORA AND FAUNA BEANBAG

1983-1989 FLORA AND FAUNA BEANBAG

Double strand Persian wool on 12 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 1,512 stitches

Dimensions: 2 x 3 3/4 x 11/16 in.

The colors recall a Japanese lustreware tea set remembered from Haag's childhood. The animal-like figures were added by Haag years after the work was first created, another example of her putting aside a "completed" work and returning to it years later to charge it with new motifs and ideas.

1977-1978 GREEN PILLOW

1977-1978 GREEN PILLOW

Double strand Persian wool on 12 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions, pus tent, bargello, and double leviathan stitches.

Approximately 69,662 stitches

Dimensions: 14 x 12 3/4 & 17 in. each side with a 1 ¼ in. edge

Here we have a perfect marriage of cultures: a green bird, red swan and lotuses that recall Egyptian motifs. This integrates with the outline of the central design, based on the bhupura, a sacred enclosure with four portals, found in both Hindu and Buddhist symbolism, and here based on a Tibetan yantra.

1975-76 UNICORN

1975-76 UNICORN

Double strand Persian wool on 12 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 29,736 stitches

Dimensions: 14 3/4 x 14 in.

In 1974, the unicorn was just becoming a well-known icon in the States. Haag gave the icon a rather ironic twist: note the predominance of American red, white and blue colors. True to Haag's spirit, the unicorn is depicted with one paw raised, indicating that it will not step on any living thing.

1991 EYE OF HORUS/DOUBLE HAPPINESS AMULET

1991 EYE OF HORUS/DOUBLE HAPPINESS AMULET

Single strand Persian wool on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 1,418 stitches

Dimensions: 1 1/4 x 1 ¾ in.

The central design on one side of this little amulet is the Egyptian Eye of Horus, a symbol for health, and on the other the Chinese Double Happiness symbol.

1992-1994 CANTALLOC

1992-1994 CANTALLOC

Single strand Persian wool, gold and silk thread, with threaded needle on 18 mesh, partly unworked, canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 50,787 stitches

Dimensions: 11 x 14 ¼ in.

Cantalloc means "the place of weaving." It is the title of a novel, set in Peru, which Haag was writing in the 1990s. The narrator in the novel sits in the ancient ruins working on the canvas. Haag quotes from the novel: "Often when I stitch I do not realize the passage of time, and this was one of those occasions. I was not afraid." A Tibetan eye chart, forming the basis for a sun symbol, emerges from behind the Peruvian stone head. This Tibetan element is a reference to "the Asiatic origins of early Americans."  The canvas is unfinished, just as it was left in the novel.

1981 NARCISSUS

1981 NARCISSUS

Double strand Persian wool on 12 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 19,156 stitches

Dimensions: 12 3/8 x 10 3/8 in.

Here we have a bouquet of narcissus flowers inspired by a visit by Haag to the flowered courtyard of Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. We can practically smell the fragrance. Note the coffered background, reflecting Haag's love of coffered ceilings of which the Gardner Museum has great examples. As in several of Haag's work, any surface traditionalism vanishes on closer inspection.

1991 & 1995 NEEDLEPOINT/CATTIPOINT, TRANSITIONAL FORM

1991 & 1995 NEEDLEPOINT/CATTIPOINT, TRANSITIONAL FORM

Single strand Persian wool on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 13,122 stitches

Dimensions: 4 1/2 x 4 ½ in.

This work was started as a commercial enterprise, the only time that Haag contemplated selling individual pieces of her needlepoint work. She soon realized, however, that these works could not be turned out quickly, nor did she wish to trivialize the sacred tradition from which textiles had sprung. The cat theme, however, did spark Haag's interest in creating a series of small paintings dubbed "Cattipoints" from her needlepoint studies. These Cattipoints, which became popular among Haag's friends, were influenced by both her needlepoints and the dotted style of Australian Aboriginal paintings.

1989 TIBETAN YANTRA BEANBAG

1989 TIBETAN YANTRA BEANBAG

Double strand Persian wool on 14 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 8,434 stitches

Dimensions: 3 3/8 x 3 3/8 x 1 1/2 in.

Showing the blues, reds, browns and beiges of a tribal rug, this double vajara design was inspired by a picture of a 17th century Nepalese manuscript illustrated with mandala yantras. Haag discovered her beanbags were a perfect "laboratory" to try out patterns and designs.

1991 ERIKA SACHET

1991 ERIKA SACHET

Single strand Persian wool on 18 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 5,184 stitches

Dimensions: 4 x 4 in.

The Marrying Maiden of the I Ching is in the center, the totality of the work a needlepoint experiment demonstrating the use of many borders around a central symbol.

1980-1982 CHINESE CHAIR PILLOW (A LOST WORK)

1980-1982 CHINESE CHAIR PILLOW (A LOST WORK)

Double strand Persian wool on 14 mesh canvas. Continental stitch in all four directions.

Approximately 71,638 stitches had it been completed

Dimensions: 17 x 21 1/2 in.

This still unfinished piece was stolen from Haag's classic 1964 Rivera while it was parked in a public garage on Bush near Polk in San Francisco in 1982. Among other motifs, the needlepoint recorded Haag's 1980 travels in China and Japan. Done in blues, reds and maroon with accents of white, rose and pink, it was the transitional piece from coffering into designs inspired by Oriental, especially tribal, rugs.

Haag hopes "Chinese Chair Pillow" will one day resurface and be restored to the collection, no questions asked!