Eternal Toile has been mentioned in this journal before, but this is the first time we have been able to share the finished story. It has taken a long time to get this design to work. Wendy admits the ideas behind it have been in her head for years, but it has been a challenge to create the standard of finish she had in mind.
Now, using the detailed and intricate Nepalese hand-knotted construction, in wool and silk, combining rich neutral colours, everything has come together beautifully, and this much-anticipated design has finally taken shape.
Eternal Toile fits perfectly with all of Wendy’s aspirations for her rug designs; she combines storytelling through Oriental symbolism, and is composed of almost all of the symbols depicted in both Korean and Chinese philosophy for a long and happy life.
Wendy loves toile wallcoverings and fabrics, and believes it is a beautiful way to tell a story – something that is always important in her designs – whilst creating a subtle repeat pattern. The colours she has chosen to work with are all very neutral with the exception of lilac, a meaningful colour, which often symbolises spirituality, happiness and tranquillity.
The Ten Symbols of Longevity, which inspired Wendy’s Eternal Toile design, are based on the aim of enjoying a long and healthy life, in harmony with nature, which is a key element at the heart of Korean culture. It is one of the main values held within Chinese and Korean Daoism.
Although ‘Ten Symbols’ are referred to, there are actually 12, which can often be seen represented in a variety of combinations in artworks. The classical list of 10 is below, with the symbol and its meaning, many of which feature in Wendy’s design.
The Sun – One of the natural elements, it rises every day and is a source of life, a constant source of light, the warming energy that gives and nourishes life.
Mountains – their shape and appearance seem unchanged forever, so they can withstand time.
Water – often depicted as the sea or waterfalls, it too is seen as a symbol of life, it is a flowing form that avoids harm and destruction. It can symbolise harmony but also power, because it has the capacity to destroy everything in its path.
Clouds – they represent the union of the Yin and the Yang and are a powerful symbol for harmony.
Rocks – hard and enduring, made to last.
Pine Trees – evergreens that can live for hundreds of years, they are the same season after season, symbolising immortality.
Mushroom – although this symbol doesn’t appear in Wendy’s design, the ‘mushroom of immortality’ or “Yeongji”is often included as part of the Ten Symbols and is said to bring eternal life to those who eat it, but it can only be found by deer or cranes.
The turtle – renowned throughout the Orient for living for centuries, turtles symbolise luck and longevity.
The crane – throughout Asia, the crane is a symbol of happiness and eternal youth, it also symbolises good fortune and longevity. And because they choose a mate for life, they are often associated with a long marriage. The crane is often seen as a sign of good things to come.
The deer – gentle animals that live in the forest and represent peace and goodness, a symbol of harmony.
Combining the hand-knotted construction, the quality materials of wool and silk, with rich neutral colours, and the toile storytelling of Oriental symbolism for a long and happy life, brings together the perfect components for an heirloom rug. Open to your own interpretation, Eternal Toile is a joyful nod to life, love and happiness.