counterpane was of patchwork, full of odd little parti-colored squares and
triangles; and this arm of [Queequeg's] tattooed all over with an interminable
Cretan labyrinth of a figure, no two parts of which were of one precise
shade---owing I suppose to his keeping his arm at sea unmethodically in
sun and shade, his shirt sleeves irregularly rolled up at various times---this
same arm of his, I say, looked for all the world like a strip of that same
patchwork quilt. Indeed, partly lying on it as the arm did when I first
awoke, I could hardly tell it from the quilt, they so blended their hues
together; and it was only by the sense of weight and pressure that I could
tell that Queequeg was hugging me."
As a meditation on counterpane designs and also
designs of all kinds, including identity, race, culture, and friendship,
Kitagawa Utamaro, "Shells On and Around a Conical Rock,"
from Shioi no tsuto (Treasures of the Ebb Tide), c. 1790
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