The doubtful rickety barn I live and work in was a silk farming house until the mid-1960s like every other house in the village.
No one moves anywhere.
The same ten families for the past 600 years it seems. Scratching out a living in this nondescript crease in the mountains. The winters were spent making charcoal to sell and to give the illusion of heat in a brazier under a table. In the spring and summer and autumn they raised silkworms. There was no electricity. Typhoons like the two we have had over the past few days drench the place. A dreary mess to mop up with drearier rags and scrappy bamboo brooms.....
When I moved in this place 22 years ago, the second and third floor was littered with abandoned funereal silk farming equipment. Bamboo trays and linen nets, fuzz removing boxes and wooden pulleys for getting the mulberry up to the top of the house. There was more equipment for reeling the silk and skeining it. There was still more weaving equipment. Looms and warping wheels and reeds.
Food, clothing and shelter self-sufficiency.
The old guy who was born in this house is in the hospital now. I take his wife there a few times a week for a short visit. His sister was there today and we briefly sat with him. He is so small grey and fragile.
It was just yesterday we were climbing the mountain and collecting bamboo and falling trees.
My head spun a little at the human/time dynamics at the table. I dump fix up money into their old house. (A place full of harsh memories of poverty and mosquitoes and cold for them. ) An antique carpet here and some other unnecessary sarty-afrtsy-something-or-other object there. Ornamental grasses and a dozen kinds of lilies from the local home centre to improve the view out the bathroom window.
I put in flush toilets a few years back. A few of the neighbouring houses still have outhouses and paper walls and doors instead of glass ones. I think my neighbours thought I was needling them on purpose by flushing the toilet to trot out it actually flushed. They came over to look at it (them actually, I put in three at once...) enviously... in 2012.
I took me a few years but eventually I knew what all the silk and charcoal tools were used for. In neighbouring villages that were wealthier than this one you could find the same tools only of higher quality and cleverer design. Deeper in the mountains there were more meager houses where the equipment was shabbier.
Working in Laos I saw similar old silk industry tools and could discern their purpose at a glance. The branches off the silk road. I figured at first that the tools were developed to fulfil a function and that is why they looked similar. The Japanese tools were slightly different as there is no chair culture and tools were made to use while sitting on the floor. The eye-level is decided in traditional Japanese houses. Windows and furniture and even dishes are based on this single eye level.
After Russia I flew to Tbilisi, Georgia for a week. Georgia was formerly called, The Georgian Soviet Republic. After the Soviet Union collapsed it declared independence and became an independent country in 1991. It sits on the Black Sea.
I flew down there with Anna for a few reasons. To eat/drink the famously delicious food and wine, experience the Georgians legendary hospitality and see the notoriously beautiful people. (Three checks and five stars to all three of the above.) Anna's brother Vanya came along with his finance and we had a small wedding in a remote romantic town.
I didn't expect any textile related experiences except looking for some carpets to drag home to the farmhouse....Iran and Azerbaijan are close by. They were hard to resist.