Author Archives: Katherine Pope

Folk Object: Thimbles

Thimbles were once given by young men or boys to young women or girls to display their affection and feelings for them without proposing serious commitment or marriage. Thimbles could be regarded as toys or novelties. Deborah was first given thimbles by her grandmother. Later on when she was stationed in Korea, she started to receive thimbles as gifts from people because she expressed to them that she didn’t have much room and was living in a small apartment. She now owns over 350 thimbles in her collection. Her oldest thimble is from medieval times; her second oldest dates back to 1720. Deborah takes great pride in her collection and claims that she is just a beginner in comparison to other thimble collectors. It appeared that she had a story for each thimble. She feels that the history of thimbles helps one feel what women’s role in society was for the last three centuries.

I was unfamiliar with the expansive history of thimbles. It is fascinating that this folk object was used for more than protecting one’s fingers while sewing. Jewelry when given to a woman by a man was believed to be a serious commitment; when men wanted to demonstrate interest in a woman, but not make such a commitment, thimbles became the perfect alternative because at the time every woman would have known how to sew and would have done so regularly.


The idea of thimbles as a folk object and novelty is documented in The Story of the Thimble, along with a history of the thimble.

McConnel, Bridget. (1997). The Story of the Thimble. Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing

Indian Folk Music

The ancient Hindu shloka (song) defines infinity. Shlokas are used far more frequently than any other meter in classical Sanskrit poetry. The traditional view is that this form of verse occurred to Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, on seeing a hunter shoot down one of two birds in love.

For example, the first verse of this song is that same shloka. Shekhar explained to me that music was learned in many parts of India but has been residing in Bangalore for the last 25 years. Chidananda Roopa Shivoham is a chant from Indian music historical culture. A lot can be written and said about music. Shekhar expressed that, “Music is life, especially Indian classical music. This chant brings peace to heart and mind.”

It is important to note that this meter is used in multiple ways: in poetry, in books, in music. Many composers, authors, and poets use the shloka meter, yet it is un-owned and instead belongs to the people. People find both creative and subtle ways of incorporating it into their piece of work. It is difficult for me to fully grasp the meaning and correct usage (if there is one) of shloka.