Christ Episcopal Church of Pottstown, PA          
The Sawdust Carpet
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Saw Dust Carpet

 sawdust carpet 1 During Lent and Holy Week (Semana Santa) processions in Guatemala families and neighbors make flower and sawdust carpets along their route—called alfombras de aserrín—on the streets in front of their homes. They may also be placed in the aisles of churches for religious processions to walk over. It’s a sign of faith in God, devotion to Jesus, and love of tradition. The most traditional use is during Holy Week (as our alfrombra was,) Corpus Christi, and the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos.)

  The process begins by gathering sawdust, generally from local lumberyards, which is then dyed with brightly colored dyes. Artists cut out various stencils by hand to make the designs such as the dove and Quetzal, and may make molds for depth. The art may also be done freehand, which takes longer and requires more skill.

  The next step is to lay down a background color. A stencil is placed on it, and the pattern is filled in with contrasting colored sawdust. At last, when all areas are filled, the stencil is lifted, and the image is revealed. Here in the United States, the artists have developed new techniques and often freehand draw the main image and add finishing touches with spray paint. The tradition is now evolving in our new home.

  The alfombra is ephemeral art, meant to be enjoyed in the moment. The tradition comes from artwork of several cultures around the world, including Medieval Europe and Native American sand painting for healing ceremonies. In each case, the art is effectively destroyed at the end of the religious ritual. In our case, we walked on it; with Navajo sand painting, the person being healed sits on it for the healing.

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PO 252, 316 E. High St Pottstown, PA 19464   Phone: 610-323-2895     Powered by My Church Websites
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