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ARCHEOLOGY & ANATOLIAN SLIT-TAPESTRY WEAVING

First Exhibition

Long before the invention of the modern loom, perhaps as early as the middle of the Neolithic period c.7000BC, extremely simple but highly functional warp weighted looms created patterned tapestries. Slit-tapestry weaving, more commonly known as kelim, was probably the earliest technique which created a patterned textile where the pattern was woven into and not applied onto the weaving. Extensive archaeological research and findings have proven that at this time the eastern Mediterranean region including parts of eastern Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and south-western Russia was culturally and technologically advanced with sophisticated religious and social conventions as well as a highly developed material culture. In this area, the earliest known primitive spindle whorls and the weights used in conjunction with warp-weighted looms have been found at numerous archaeological excavations. Even much earlier, c.10,000BC...

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SOUMAK & KELIM
WEAVING OF THE CAUCASUS

Second Exhibition

Thirty years ago, in 1969, the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. published a small paperbound catalog entitled : "From the Bosporus to Samarkand - Flat Woven Rugs". This landmark effort was the first to spotlight this group of weavings generally unknown to most rug-collectors and almost totally unknown in the general public. How well I can remember the first time I saw it in a specialist bookseller's shop on Madison Ave. in New York City sometime that winter and especially the soumak bag on the cover and one of the embroideries pictured within. Those two weavings focused my interest in Oriental Carpets on flat-weaves and began the search for similar impressive examples.

The best and most important of those are now on loan to the Weaving Art Museum and illustrated in this virtual exhibition. Perhaps they, too, will stimulate a new generation of collectors and the public at large to appreciate, collect and also study these fascinating objects.

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TURKMEN TRAPPINGS
FROM TENT TO TOWN

Third Exhibition

Turkmen weavings, like the Turkmen themselves, are as little understood today as they were at the end of the last century. It was at that time, circa 1875, the Czarist Russian government finally succeeded in conquering the various groups, known collectively as the Turkmen confederation, who fiercely resisted all efforts to remove them from the area of southwest Russia. This war had lasted for several decades and the Turkmen, like the native Indians of the American southwest, were able to remain victorious against superior military technology and numbers. However, finally when the Russian government allocated tremendously increased resources and manpower (like the government of the United States did against the American Indians) they succeeded. Territorial imperatives were satisfied – at the expense of the total destruction the Turkmen (and as was the case in America, the American Indian) lifestyle, traditions and culture.

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CULT KELIM
MYSTERY TAPESTRIES IDENTIFIED

Fourth Exhibition

During the last two decades appreciation for all types of flat-woven textiles has grown immensely and no longer are these documents of warp and weft placed on the back shelf of art history. For the past decade this focus of energy has spotlighted the kelims of Anatolia (modern day Turkey). Along with this elevation of status has come increased interest to determine the historic and artistic roots of this weaving tradition. Perhaps the most interesting and provocative theory suggests patterned slit-tapestry weaving maintains an iconographic tradition reaching back to the seventh millennium B.C or before. Supported by remains - such as architectural decoration, wall-painting, pottery, sculpture, and even textiles - found at Neolithic, Bronze Age and later archaeological sites - proponents of this thesis have already found many examples of design similarity and outlined a tentative historical context.

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ASYUTE
UNKNOWN SHAWLS OF EGYPT

Fifth Exhbition

Unlike the weavings featured in the previous four exhibitions, this show presents a Near Eastern textile tradition about which nothing has been published and little is known. The exhibition is a first as these textiles have not been displayed or examined by any other institution or gallery. The short descriptive text offered here also provides the first brief examination of them. No other exists and supposedly the few scant published mentions have repeated hearsay and fantasy, like they can be made of silver or they were made during the Art-Deco period.

These misconceptions have created a situation where more mis-information than factual surrounds these unusual wraps or shawls. Even the technique used to make them and exactly what metal was used for the foil strip has not been correctly described. Their unusual technique, a thin narrow metallic foil strip threaded and bent through a previously woven netted linen ground cloth, is unique to these textiles.

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ANCIENT CARPET FRAGMENTS
THE CARL JOHAN LAMM COLLECTION RE-EXAMINED

Sixth Exhibition

Notwithstanding more than 100 years of investigation and the collection of a significant amount of data, little positive provenance information has yet emerged to pinpoint the origins of most Oriental carpet designs. Progress has been made
on several fronts particularly the recognition these designs did not exist in a vacuum and must be studied by taking other decorative arts into account.

Clues garnered from diverse objects such as pottery and other findings from pre-historic archaeological excavations; metalwork from the bronze age and later periods; calligraphy from 9th century; architecture beginning in the 12th century; miniature painting from the 13th century and book-binding and wood-work from the 14th century have encouraged a number of important insights. However, the origins of the designs found on historic and later complex patterned weavings still remain mysterious and undetermined.

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TAPESTRY FLOWERS
SHAWLS OF KASHMIR

Seventh Exhibition

Kashmir shawls have long been treasured for their luxurious materials and splendid evocative designs. Their softness, ability to warm the body and brilliant coloration were revered throughout the Near East for centuries. However it was not until the late 18th and early 19th century, circa 1790-1810, the Kashmir shawl reached its widest and most universal appeal in the West. Perhaps it was Napoleon's conquests in Egypt and his alleged gifts of shawls to Josephine that galvanized their notoriety for soon thereafter Kashmir shawls and the distinctive designs they display reached an unbelievable level of popularity and influence.

During this period the Kashmir shawl became the most well-known and important article of female dress and fashion. In England, on the Continent and in America it would have been impossible to attend any society event and not see these shawls on the arms and shoulders of the most important, wealthy and fashionable women.

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ANIMALS, PEARLS AND FLOWERS
SYNTHESIS OF TURKMEN ICONOGRAPHY

Eighth Exhibition

May 2009 is the Weaving Art Museum's 11th year online and for that anniversary we present our tenth exhibition, the third to examine Turkmen pile woven rugs. Specifically this presentation seeks to identify important iconographic parallels Turkmen weavings share with certain ancient textiles and archaeological objects from Central Asia and western China, as well as others from eastern and western Mediterranean regions.

There is little question historic Turkmen weavings possess a highly developed and codified iconography but how this developed remains a mystery, perhaps the most important left unanswered in oriental carpet studies.

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CARPETS FROM TURKMENISTAN

Ninth Exhibition

Within the large family of oriental carpets Turkmen rugs are quite unique but not until recently did they begin to draw the attention of those interested in carpet artistry. These rugs distinguish themselves by their red appearance and repeating geometric patterns. The red colors vary in shades and hues, ranging from yellow-red to brown-red, ruby and purple-red-brown.

Some of these carpets are true masterpieces, although the female artists who created them almost always go unmentioned and unrecognized. Oriental culture is a world that always, and to this day still continues, not to emphasize individuality and artistic identity. This attitude stands in the way of giving proper recognition to these women and the weavings they made.

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THE WEALTH OF KINGS
MASTERPIECE PERSAN CARPETS

Tenth Exhibition

This exhibition, “The Wealth of Kings: Masterpiece Persian Carpets” focuses attention on a number of early carpets made during the golden age of Persian Carpet production, circa 1450-1650. Scanning through these photographs one cannot help but marvel at the beautiful designs, splendid colors and be impressed by the great artistic and technical achievement these weavings represent.

Though many of them have suffered the ravages of time, particularly from use as ordinary floor carpets, they still convey the magnificent opulence that characterized the lifestyles of the kings and khans they once served. Many are now fragmentary, having been cut down to remove worn or damaged areas, or to reduce their great proportions into more manageable sizes. Others are even smaller pieces saved from carpet dealer scrap heaps by knowledgeable and observant repairers and collectors.

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