Sunday 12 August 2012

How to Sew an Ethiopian Banner

In the Bobo House, youths are offered up unto JAH (blessed) wearing white garments and swaddled in the Ethiopian rainbow banner. Every family buys one for the ceremony from a particular Empress, who is like the deputy Leading Empress of the camp.
Here’s my princess with hers. It measured 31 x 41 inches. This is something that she will always have in her room. Her gown was actually my niece’s, it was like 11 years old when Nile wore it!

Besides using it for blessing the youths, the Ethiopian banner is hung around the home – outside the home, at all or the main exit/entrance doorways to the home, and over all bedposts. It is also placed in the direction of the East so that Idren face it when chanting Ises. The banner is not only a reminder of JAH RasTafari and Ethiopia, but it is viewed as a talisman, a symbol of JAH’s Love surrounding I and I through the ever-living rainbow. Moses in Exodus 17:15 "built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner," showing how much the Ithiopian banner symbolizes JAH Selah. Every RasTafari home has a banner even if it has the Lion symbol (which represents the Reign of the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Yehudah) or the black star (Ghanaian flag) or a picture of King Alpha and/or Queen Omega. But it is important to have the plain one, which symbolizes the blessing and Itection of the family.
There is always a “preference” that RasTa have regarding the order of the colours in the flag. Some want the green up top, some want the red up top – this tutorial makes a banner that can function either way. The green up top is the traditional, original national Ethiopian flag. Green represents the fertility of Ethiopian soil, yellow the religious freedom and richness, and red for the blood of the people who died to keep it free.
But the Red Gold Green is not only about Ethiopia, the colours of I and I banner are also representative of the ever-Living God, JAH through the real rainbow in the sky, which is primarily made up of red, yellow, green. The red is always up top in nature, being the truest banner. The rainbow represents the Covenant of Noah, which ideally is a promise that JAH shall not destroy the Earth by water. It represents mercy and JAH’s omnipresence and tending over the world. The full moon also has a night rainbow when it is surrounded by hazy clouds. A complete ring of a rainbow is usually formed around it, and it is always distinctly red, gold, green. This full circular rainbow represents again the continuity and fullness of JAH in the Iniverse – the Rainbow Circle Throne.
It is important to know that even though there is partiality, the Red Gold Green and Green Gold Red are indeed cosmic and terrestrial mirror images of The One. The order of the colours is in fact related to the Shield or Star of David, where the up triangle points to the heavens, “as above” and the down triangle points to the earth, “So below.” This is demonstrated by the moon’s full circle rainbow. If you cut the full circle rainbow in half, you are left with two separate bows – one will have red up top, and one will have green up top. I hope you see my point!

And finally, the reason why many Rastafari will also place red up top, is because (and I am going based on what is written in The Rastafarians by Leonard E. Barrett, Sr. about the Movement in its earliest days) the banner is also an adaptation of the Garvey banner which places red first, then black then green. Barrett says that in every camp the Red Black and Green could be seen painted everywhere – it was when dress and tams started being made, that the yellow which was in the Jamaican flag (green yellow black) was added. The red always remained up top. Either he is right, or he didn’t get the memo about the Ethiopian flag having gold in the middle. But it was with the creation of clothing that yellow started to make its appearance and was mixed with Red Black Green – so the Rastafari colours became Red Gold Green Black. Coincidentally, the Red Black and Green banner shares the #1 spot with the Red gold Green banner in the Bobo House, most houses have both banners, so please use this tutorial to make your Red, Black and Green or Garvey banner. The Red stands for the blood shed by the Black race for freedom, Black for the true colour of Afrika and Israel, the colour of the race; and Green is for the vegetation, the land which is the hope of the race in Zion.
Ok, I’ve said my full on the importance and significance of the Banner in the Rastafari Home – onto the banner tutorial. Remember Empress, you can use this banner in the home, or you can sell them, put a print on them , bless up your sistren or anyone you know trodding Fari and could use a lil strength.
Materials: 1 yard of red, yellow, green cotton fabric each at 45 inches if you want to make it big enough for the youth blessing purpose. Black cotton thread, sewing machine, scissors, pins, chalk, yard stick.
Note: you are cutting both your red and green sections with a selvedge side, so that you only have to make hems for two sides of the banner. If you are making two banners from the 3 yards, which I did, then one of them will have to take 3 finishing hems instead of two. Note also that this tutorial is also a basic guide on how to do patchwork.

This banner I made was from the scraps I had from making a jean skirt (tutorial to come), so it’s an odd size: 28 x 32. Note the width is the side along a solid colour, the length is the side with the tricolour. Each panel was about 10 inches long x 34 inches wide. I used a 1 inch seam allowance.

First, cut three panels the same size as shown above. Use the ruler and chalk to help get it as straight as possible. Whatever size you want your banner to be, add an extra 1 inch for your seam allowance. Smaller seam allowance if you can get it smaller of course.
Next, join the panels together in this order:
Yellow panel over red panel and pin:

On the other side of the yellow: Green panel over yellow panel and pin:

This is how it will look when pinned:

 Sew the 3 pieces together at these two points, using a ½ seam for both lines. Zigzag ends together.


Make the necessary hems to complete the banner. Press in two ½ inch folds and pin.

Sew all around with straight stitch

Iron over all seams. You are finished!        

I hope this tutorial is clear, it is very very easy! Time to get sewing one of your own!
Blessed Love
Sis. Ila

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