[The following material was originally written for use in the PBeM Beneath the Golden Moon .]
The Calling of Saint Geldara is the name given
to the tapestry made by Geldara herself mere days before she was led before
the Goddess and given her divine
mission. It was left behind by Geldara when she departed from her native village, never to return again. For generations after the girl's disappearance the tapestry
was kept by the lords of the local manor, their most prized possession. In 1285 SA it was given as a gift to Harwar Seben at Findumon, in honour of his son Nasla
taking Laranian vows. Tragically, less than a year later the tapestry was destroyed in a fire that gutted the main hall of Findumon (which also cost Harwar his life and
gave Nasla the kingdom of Kendela).
As fortune would have it, however, during that
brief stay in its final home, the tapestry caught the eye of the young
Yebael Cassean, who was briefly staying at the
manor with her aunt. Yebael was determined to make a copy of the tapestry for herself, and prolonged her stay there considerably to work on the project. Having
done all that she had to with the original to work from, she and her aunt then moved on, and the tapestry was left incomplete for the rest of the journey.
Several months after returning home to Harchesa
Abbey, Yebael received word of the disaster that had befallen the original
tapestry. She determined to finish the
work that she had started, and spent the winter of 1286 doing so. From that time on the tapestry has hung in whatever quarters Yebael has lived in, including the
room she and Syman now occupy at Menekod.
Geldara was the youngest of three daughters born
to Misa, the weaver at Nema. Though her father died when she was barely
any more than a baby, she was a
happy child, and delighted in playing with her elder sisters. One night, when she had just started to become a woman, she had a vivid dream; she saw herself running
up a green hill after a red butterfly, while the sun was setting before her and her house receeded behind her into the distance. When she woke the next morning, she
remembered every detail of the dream, including the bright outline of the sun around the butterfly's wings, and she told it all to Misa, her mother. Misa said that she
should make a tapestry of it, and Geldara did so.
Some days later, while she was out playing in
the meadows with her sisters, she saw a red butterfly, just like in her
dream, fluttering nearby. Leaving her sisters she
ran after the tiny creature, trying to catch it in her small hands. Always, however, it evaded her grasp, and continued to fly away, towards the sun. Geldara, now far
away from her sisters, continued in pursuit. She did not grow tired, and ran until her village was far behind. And though in her home it grew dark, she followed the
butterfly, and the sun, with such eagerness that it was still only afternoon, and at length she reached the place where the sun shines always.
Back at Nema, her two sisters ran back to Misa,
telling her in sobbing voices of Geldara's flight. Misa went straight to
the lord of the manor, and asked that he ride
out to fetch her daughter. The lord was about to refuse, but his young son said that he would find the girl, and immediately set out on his horse. There was no moon,
and he rode slowly in the darkness for many hours. And though the time came for dawn, the sun did not rise; but in its place the moon, a pale thin crescent, appeared
above the horizon. Still the young man rode, and when the moon set behind him, he had still not found the girl.
Once again the sun did not rise when it should,
and without any light to guide him, he travelled slowly. With the next
moonrise, he galloped on, the larger crescent
giving him more light than the previous night. So he rode, with barely a pause, for many lightless days, while the waxing moon showed him the path at night. At last,
after driving his horse to exhaustion beneath the full moon, he was greeted with his first dawn in many days. And as the first rays shone forth over the horizon, they
revealed Geldara sitting in rapture in a small hollow in the ground.
When he saw her, the lord's son fell deeply in
love with the weaver's daughter, and he asked her to accompany him back
to the village where they might be wedded.
She refused to go with him, however, for the Goddess had summoned her to do Her bidding, and that she must do. She had been charged with taking Larani's light
to those places still in darkness. The young man begged to be allowed to accompany her, but again she refused, saying that the Goddess had asked this of her and
her alone. Dejected, he returned to the village without her, and gave the news of Geldara's fate to her family. Though they mourned that they would not see her again,
her mother and sisters rejoiced that she had been so blessed by the Lady. But the young man could not be consoled by their happiness, until the eldest sister gave
him the tapestry Geldara had made not long before. Then the man's heart was gladdened, and he saw that this was truly the Goddess' will.
Yebael made as faithful a copy of Geldara's tapestry
as she could, and though she was not as practiced as she was to become,
her attempt was a good one. The
work is rectangular, 66" long by 30" high, made of canvas embroidered in fine tent stitch in wools with some details in silk. The decoration is simple, with few
In the centre a girl in the long robes of a priestess
is running after a red silk butterfly which is rimmed in white. Her arms
are outstretched, and her fingers curl in an
attempt to grasp the elusive insect. The girl is running up the gentle slope of a green hill, beyond which the sun is setting (done in white and yellow). Behind her, in the
bottom left corner of the piece, a few houses stand.
What few incidental details there are are kept
well to the background: a few faces can be seen looking out from the houses,
while one figure stands in the shadow of
a doorway; scattered clouds range in the left portion of the tapestry, and a few little bushes, plants and flowers dot the hillside. Beyond the peak of the hill, and
below the sun, the land is shown as sloping down quite steeply, probably to clearly emphasise the summit in the small space between the peak and the right edge of
Author: Jamie Norrish