Creation date / 2020 / May
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- After daily chores and the midday meal, Dhammavaro sews his three robes. The “triple set”consists of the sabong - a robe worn at the waist; the jiworn - an outer robe covering the body; and the sanghati - a double-layered robe for formal occasions.
- Hundreds of lines must be sewn and errant stitches picked out by hand and then sewn again until the result is satisfactory. Novice monks may have little familiarity with sewing, and the robe-making process represents a trial-and-error process.
- Doubly-thick, the sanghati requires one to sew four layers at once in a garment sized approximately 300 x 200 centimeters.
- After sewing is complete, Dhammavaro washes the sanghati with soap and water - this removes any oil his fingers may have left on the garment so that dye will hold to the cloth.
- Familiarity with an industrial sewing machine can take time - foot and hand coordination is required to add stitches and maneuver the cloth successfully.
- The patchwork of connected squares and rectangles reflected in the design of a monk's robe was the brainchild of the Buddha himself, who instructed his assistant to sew a prototype that evoked the pattern of rice paddy fields in Magadha, India.
- Dhammavavro stirs madrone bark in the steeping pot as Ajahn Ñaniko looks on.
- Dhammavaro pours bark from the madrone tree into a pot of boiling water, where it will "steep" and color the liquid just like tea leaves brewing in a tea cup.
- After straining the madrone bark, Dhammavavro moves the weak dye liquid to another pot, where it will be boiled and reduced. To stay on schedule, he spent four nights' vigil in a cold basement retrofitted with dyeing equipment.
- Dhammavavro separates madrone bark from the initial, weak dye solution before moving it to the reduction bath.
- Dhammavavro pulls his jiworn from the final dye solution, where it soaked for two hours. The number and duration of baths determine color density and uniformity in a robe - often cloth must be saturated in dye many times for a rich and even color.
- In a process developed at the time of the Buddha, a robe will be flipped in three steps so the natural dye settles evenly on the cloth. This rotation also prevents "racing stripes" as dye drips down the sides.
- In the third stage of flipping, the dye is massaged into the cloth with the hands so that it remains in the center of the robe.