Last weekend, I went to Leicester for a day of Dances of Universal Peace. It was held at the Quaker Meeting House. The altar at the front of the room immediately got my attention, as it had several items set out on it, all on top of a beautiful embroidered cloth featuring the Sufi emblem of a heart with wings, sometimes known as the ‘flying heart’.
This cloth was bought recently by Gulzar Christina Lausevic, who was leading the dances last weekend. She had bought it in New Delhi, India, in February, when she went there for the URS celebration of Hazrat Inayat Khan (the man who brought Universal Sufism to the West in 1910).
She explained that the altar cloth was sold as a pashmina (she demonstrated it later, and it does make a good wrap – it’s just the right size, and it’s made from a very softly woven, comfortable fabric!). A Sufi charity called the Hope Project provides help for local people, including employment for girls in the area, who embroider souvenirs for the pilgrims who visit the dargah (tomb) of Hazrat Inayat Khan in New Delhi. As it says on the website of the Hope Project, “The Hope Project emerged from the vision of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan to translate Sufi values, guided by the spiritual ideals of Hazrat Inayat Khan [his father], into practice.”
This cloth features long and short stitch, stem stitch outline, and herringbone stitch for the feathers on the wings – which is very effective. I had a quick look at the back of the stitching, and it’s as neat as the front!
Hopefully, the income that these girls get from their embroidery will give them more choice for their futures than they would otherwise have.