The verbal visual connection

In my own experience with other cultures I have never come across something as interesting as the verbal visual connection the people in Ghana have in their cloth. In our western culture the only thing that come to mind is the brand label. The label or tag on the clothing is something known and the more popular the brand the higher the price. Everyone knows brand names and their price and relative quality can be determined by this name. There is a difference between EDDIE BAUER and EXPRESS. The clothing may be similar, for example two pairs of jeans, but the label has a connotation about what type of style or comment you want to make with your jeans. EXPRESS is more about a clean cut fashion that is elegant where as the EDDIE BAUER is about being outdoors and rugged.

I was unsatisfied with the brand label connection. I think the story or mythology referenced in the kente cloth is something more substantial than brand labels and their connotations. But, I couldn’t think of any other cultures with similar visual verbal connections. So I asked a few of my friends and they had some good suggestions. For example there is a story in China connected to the moon cake. This is a type of food that references the story of the moon lady and the emperor. The story goes that this emperor wanted to take the pill of immortality, so he sent his subject off to find it. The penalty for returning without the pill was death; so many people searched and never came back. As the story goes these people who left China created Taiwan. Finally the emperor went in search of the pill himself. He found a wise man that told him the pill of immortality could only be created by killing thousands of babies. This done the emperor had his pill, but while waiting for the special ceremony to take the pill his wife stole it. This was because he was a bad emperor and would not rule China well. When he found she had taken the pill he chased her up into a tower. Having no escape she swallowed the pills. The emperor was so enraged that he pushed her off the tower, but she floated up to heaven. In heaven she was banished to the moon as her punishment for stealing the pill and given only a rabbit for company. Today you can go to any Chinese store a get a mooncake with the moonlady and her rabbit on the package.

I think there are many such stories that are represented in each culture. I was talking to someone about Japanese paper and it’s names. Many people, for example emperors, would create their own design or type of paper and it would be named after them. Today these designs still carry the names. I think some of the verbal visual connections are difficult to think of because we are so used to seeing them that they don’t stick out.

Categories: Writing

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