Japanese Shide |
Photo taken by John Kinkade of Columbine Gallery in Loveland, CO

This traditional Shide (pronounced she-day) is a folded zig-zag shaped white paper sculpture that hangs in the entryways of Japanese temples and shrines.  Hung for the New Year, they usually adorn these twisted rice ropes, or Shimenawa, which are said to separate the sacred from the profane, keep impurities out, and purify the space within.

Shide paper strips are also attached to a wooden “wand” and then used in a Shinto ritual called harai, or “sweeping” to remove unwanted spirits or impurities.  I love how Timothy Takemoto (sourced below) theorizes that the shape “resembles lightning” and the sound is a rustling that “hangs in the air” and wakes the spirits.

On a recent visit to Stone Forest, our friend John Kinkade brought some of these Shide for us to see in person.  In honor of the new year, I leave you with this powerful, delicate, cleansing symbol.

Here’s to new beginnings.


Sources |

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shide_%28Shinto%29

To learn how to fold a Shide, and read more about their significance, visit this site created by Timothy Takemoto.

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