The overall design of the rug represents the general shape of the state with the bottom of the rug being Southern California, middle of the rug Central California, and the top of the rug Northern California. Discover the rich history, lore, and symbolism that has been intricately woven into the textile by referencing the bulleted points below and rolling over the image to zoom and pan (feature works on desktop and tablets only).
- Top corners in the outermost border mythical griffins sit
- Outside border depicts the Pacific Ocean at left, eastern skies at right
- Next inside border represents plants and trees
- Smallest border represents the two great industries of the state: high technology and entertainment
- Major border signify the golden hills of California. This curvilinear outline is in the shape of Queen Califia’s torso and encompasses the Los Angeles freeway system. Adjacent is the San Andreas faultline, denoted by a slipped abrash, with the aqueduct system on the right irrigating the Central Valley, and the Harris Ranch area on the left
- The central field represents the Central Valley which is the last remaining valley system that serves a civilization
- The lower portion is Califia’s bottom, tapering up to her waistline, then extending to her shoulders, neck and head in the north, dissolving into night sky
California History, Myth, and Lore
The name “California” first appeared in a work published in Seville in the 1510 by Garci Rodrígues de Montalvo entitled The Labors of the Very Brave Knight Esplandian. The names Califa and California were rooted in the Arabic word khalifa, which enters English as “caliph.” The use of the word is clearly meant to call to mind the reconquista (Iberian Crusades).
In the novel, the “pagans” attack the Christian city of Constantinople. Word of this reaches the fictional island of California in the Indies, which is inhabited only by women and ruled by a queen named Calafia. She convinces her women to join the pagan alliance and, wearing their golden armor, they sail to Constantinople. Their fabled griffins, creatures with the heads and wings of eagles but the bodies of lions, proved to be especially formidable fighters and capture and kill many Christian defenders of the city.
Rug Motifs and Symbols
The rug represents the general shape of the state with the bottom of the rug being Southern California, middle of the rug Central California, and the top of the rug Northern California. The outside border shows the Pacific Ocean on the left and eastern skies on the right. The next city skyline border has Los Angeles and San Diego on the south end, with the sunset in the red sky. On west side Los Angeles tapers off to coastline, followed by San Luis Obispo and its seven hills, with more coastline coming near Santa Cruz with a touch of flame. Then San Francisco with Golden Gate Bridge, tapering off to a lengthy empty coastline, then one small dot representing Mendocino; more empty coastline with Eureka and Crescent City at the north end of state. At each corner of that border we have two griffins. The griffin on the left has a row of uncut knots. Those knots were laid by Ian Petersen, who was about to deploy to Iraq. I chose to leave his knots uncut to represent his coming home safely, which he did. For a description of the griffins, see the story of Califia. That border has a distinct statement regarding the preservation of the coast and its eastern border. The eastern border is interrupted in the middle by the High Sierras. The northern border has no cities as well as the entire eastern side of the state, dropping down to San Diego city skyline. That border is finished with a white and blue row of knots.
The next inside border represents plants and trees. The bottom shows an orange grove on the left with the indigenous California fan palm with sand dunes on the right and sand food in the right-hand corner. Going up the westside of the border above the orange grove, we have lemons, then bouganvilla, then the golden hills interrupts that border, continuing with poppies, vetch and lupines, then more poppies, avocados, oak trees, with field of artichokes. The golden hills again interrupts that border, finding vineyards, apple orchards, Anderson Valley, with sky turning into water, with shores lapping against the beginning of the redwood trees extending all the way to the northern edge of that border. The north end of that border carries on with a clear-cut field, madrone tree, low hills, aspen tree and conch shell. Going up the east side after the sand dunes we find saguaro cactus, Joshua trees, bristlecone pine, then the interruption of the High Sierras, followed by pines with Califia interrupting temporarily, followed by a fallen log, finishing with high desert in the northern end.
The smallest border represents the two great industries of the state, high technology and entertainment. The southern part of the high tech and entertainment industry borders features two television sets in each corner, wired together with seven computer monitors and keyboards. Then going north, around about the shoulder of Califia, the wires begin to drop off and the computers become wireless. They then devolve into hand-held devices with the northern horizontal border featuring two television sets in each corner with the years 1997 and 2007 surrounding seven ipads. The upper television sets each show an apple; the left-hand apple is the icon for Apple Technologies; the right-hand apple symbolizes the Apple Corporation begun by the Beatles, representing the entertainment industries.
The major border of the rug represents the golden hills of California. This border is curvilinear, taking the shape of a female torso. The southern portion is the woman’s ass, tapering up to her waistline, then extending to her shoulders, neck and head in the north, dissolving into night sky. The lower border encompasses the Los Angeles freeway system. Adjacent is the San Andreas faultline, denoted by a slipped abrash, with the aqueduct system on the right irrigating the Central Valley, and the Harris Ranch area on the left.
An irrigated marvel blessed with Mediterranean climate, the 400-mile-long valley grows 250 crops, from almonds to zucchini, $16 billion a year, roughly one-tenth of America’s farm output off less than 1% of its cropland. But the valley is under siege, its fertile acres more threatened by urban sprawl than anywhere else in the country.
The highway continues down the Grapevine into the Central Valley, represented as the center field of the rug, showing fields of pistachios, carrots, tomatoes and raisin grapes and a small tractor plowing a field. The off-white tufts of tea-dyed angora rabbit represents smog as the valley continues north away from the San Joaquin Valley into the Sacramento Valley. A waterway flows from the Sierras to San Francisco, representing the Hetch Hetchy Dam. In the middle of the rug on the left-hand side we can see the spaghetti junction of highways in Oakland and the Bay Area. Above this are the beginnings of the grape vineyards being planted in the golden hills, representing the burgeoning California wine industry. On the right of the golden hills border we see the foothills rising and ebbing toward the snow-capped High Sierras. The head of Califia, with her profile facing west, her hair including mushrooms, cattails, pinecones, oak leaves, cannabis leaves and cedar leaves, dissolves into the night sky. That sky includes the lights of the International Space Station, stars, and the image of the Dancing Deer tattoo represented in the stars.