Flock Motif: Ppahi

  • January 1, 2018

This article includes both Inbound and Outbound information about this image.

Flock motif: Ppahi^ (Spine) Variant

Inbound Artist: various Birdfolk artisans

Outbound Artist : M Kelley, 2013

Inbound Significance

This handprinted example personifies the distinctive marks identifying the Ppahi^, or “Spine,” the Flock whose routes relate to water guides along the Kkaxe River. As skilled whitewater navigators, these guides are responsible for the bulk of both commercial and recreational trips along this major waterway, connecting the North to the Citadel and the Desert Trade to the sanctuary of potable water.

Since Flock cloth is handcrafted – either handwoven, handprinted, or handpainted – by Birdfolk artisans, minor variations appear from cloth to cloth pattern, but the Ppahi^ Variant is easily identified by its bold chevron markings divided into long triangular or diamond-shaped segments. Flock vernacular attributes the chop of wave patterns of the Kkaxe rapids, the dip of paddle against current, and the striped walls of the canyon as inspiration for this stylistic motif. Even as the Ppahi^, the name itself – translated roughly in common tongues to “Spine” – refers to the Kkaxe River as the symbolic backbone of Birdfolk culture in The Inbound Lands, and these markings also evoke stylizations of vertebrae.

Though specific colors carry meaning and identification purposes, both in general Birdfolk visual language and when viewed within specific combinations within Ppahi^ vernacular, overall you can expect that in contemporary visual vernacular, vibrant colors are favored for their contrast against the water, helping identify runners lost to the river’s current. In prior Birdfolk history and preserved in the dialects of some smaller sects, however, natural or pale tones are preferred, as the broken patterns form a kind of camouflage within the river’s constant motion.

Outbound Significance

Original Print: linotype print on kraft papers, printed from a handcarved block, 2013

Additional Productions, 2013 to present

Originally created from a handcarved block, this Inbounds pattern is both reprinted in linotype reproductions and replicated in silkscreen form as part of the Flock Motif series. Variants of this design can be found in whole pattern reproductions, or reworked as elements within designs for Souvenir Editions. It is most commonly found as a popular paper design, and within silkscreen  designs on fabric, shirts, flags, and bags. Reproduction prints can be purchased through pop-up embassies or online merch sales.

Related entries