Bahira was born of expatriate American parents in Saudi Arabia and lived in the Middle East for nearly 20 years. Arabic music is in her blood having listened to it on the radio and TV throughout her childhood. She saw her first professional belly dancer at Le Paon Rouge nightclub in Beirut, Lebanon when she was 16 and was smitten by the beauty of the dance. Years of study and practice enabled Bahira to create two dance troupes, Troupe Nambah (2001) and Indigenous (2005), with like minded lifelong friends and to broaden her belly dance to an ethnic fusion style using dance steps from Egyptian, Turkish, Indian, Moroccan, African, Flamenco and American Tribal dances as well as her Arabic roots. Her fondest dancing memory is an impromptu duet with a Tuareg man in front of an audience of German campers under a canopy of Saharan stars in the small village of Merzuga, Morocco. The Germans were surprised to learn that she was American, not Berber, and the dancing went well on into the night! Bahira's dancing days are behind her but the glitz and inspiration of that energy can now be found in her artwork.
Bahira lives in Santa Clara, California with her husband David and three crazy cats named MuMu, Stormy and Spot. Bahira also loves cooking (her specialty is Middle Eastern, of course), traveling, gardening and creating artwork "Outside the Box".
I have always loved patterns, textures and colors...I dream in them often. As an artist I have a driving need to create beautiful things and I have achieve that desire by hand-making Miko Kami (Female Shaman Spirit Dolls).
The majority of the fabrics I use to create these figures comes from a recycling organization called FabMo “Fabrics & More” www.fabmo.com based in Sunnyvale. I let the variety and beauty of these “rescued and repurposed” fabric samples, trims and tassels from all over the world inspire me.
In 2010 I intended to make my first Doll an African ethnic figurine, but it came out looking more Japanese than African and I felt that the spirit of the Doll had found its way out through me. My second doll was also Japanese in nature and I began researching Shinto spirituality beliefs eventually coming up with the concept of Miko Kami. Since then, I have let the beauty of the fabrics guide me in the making of these Miko Kami Dolls much in the way a Kachina doll maker captures the spirit of the Kachina. I have made over 900 Spirit Dolls from many ethnic, historic and fantasy realms, and as I create them I feel good thoughts and wishes flow into them through me.
Once they are finished, a little research on the Internet helps me give each one a name and create their unique personas and stories. I have found great joy in creating Miko Kami Spirit Dolls and am delighted to pass these creations on to those like myself who can feel their essence and enjoy their individual beauty. No two are alike. I make my Miko Kami Dolls with great serenity and tranquility and have been told that on occasion, a Spirit Doll will reach out, “speak” and bond with a new owner. Each figure is numbered, cataloged, signed on the bottom and sold as a one-of-a-kind affordable art piece from my Home Studio in Santa Clara, California.
Blessings! – Bahira
Bahira’s Miko Kami Dolls are available for private showings at her Home Studio, in-home boutiques and art fairs. Call or contact Bahira for more information.
(408) 243-2445 e-mail Bahira@bahira.net
What Is A Miko Kami?
Miko (巫女) is a Japanese term that anciently meant a "shaman woman, female spirit medium" who conveyed oracles from kami, and presently it means a "shrine maiden; virgin consecrated to a deity" who serves at Shinto shrines.
Kami (神) are a difficult concept to translate in English although "spirits” or “gods" is often used. Kami is generally accepted to describe the innate supernatural forces that are above the actions of man, that is, the realm of the sacred, and is inclusive of gods, spirit figures and human ancestors. All mythological creatures of the Japanese cultural tradition, of the Buddhistic tradition, Christian God, Hindu gods, Islamic Allah, various angels and demons of all faiths among others are considered Kami for the purpose of the Shinto faith.
Bahira’s Miko Kami Dolls are weighted with smooth river rocks in the base. If the Doll’s base becomes “rounded” and it doesn’t stand up solidly, gently press the center of the base inward a few times to help “compress” the weight and stuffing to create a flatter standing surface.
Crafts and Upcycling, Mixed Media, Jewelry, Photography, Wall Art, Poetry