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 Post subject: Mysterious textile
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:38 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:19 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Geneva (Switzerland)

I have bought this textile at the Geneva flee market. Normally I don't buy textile from outside the area of my collection "Indonesia" but this time I have made an exception due to the quality of this stuff. I think it is origination from North Africa which is not the topic of this forum but maybe one of you knows something. I already ask textiles specialists in museum but until now still a mystery !

File comment: Warp: 174 cm with the fringes. 150 cm without. Brown natural cotton.
Weft: 48 cm. Wool but I don't kbow from which animal ?
Decoration: Supplementary weft threads in colored wool.
Dyes: seem natural

29946_1356510510075_1150830209_30868087_1424554_n.jpg [ 76.2 KiB | Viewed 5298 times ]

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2004 12:27 am
Posts: 124
Location: Los Angeles, CA
This may be from Morocco.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:45 am 

Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:51 am
Posts: 69
Location: New York
I'm not an expert on Moroccan rugs, but I've seen a lot of them, and none like this. My first guess was an atypical Tunisian mergoum - but now I'm thinking Algeria. I don't know that material at all, but here's something I found on-line just now ... 46589b4db4

For Tunisian reference photos, take a look at some of the fine weaving and patterns here ... rought-in/ and on the long natural weaving here

It has been a long time since I was in Tunisia - and, alas, sold the rug I bought there because it was commercial - but I was always struck by how fine the design was in their rugs - more so than the Moroccan, which is saying something.

I think North African flat weaves are goat hair - and I will warn you that moths LOVE them, so clean it and be careful how you store it. Between 9/11 and moths, I lost my small collection of Moroccan flat woven rugs, blankets and a wonderful cape.

But, again, I'm just guessing.


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:20 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 29, 2003 1:42 pm
Posts: 1997
Location: Canterbury, UK

A very nice quality textile - I can well understand why you could not resist it despite it not originating in your focus of collection.

First let me say that I am not experienced or an expert on North African textiles. However, I do have some books in my library which cover the area and I have had a look through. Two of the books seem to suggest (to me at least) that Georges' textile is from Algeria and from the the Mzab valley in south-central part of that country. (I think this is quite a remote area.)

In North African Textiles by Christopher Spring & Julie Hudson published in 1995 by British Museum Press, ISBN 0-7141-2523-7, page 87 shows a:
Tapestry-woven woollen tunic (gandura) from the Mzab, Algeria. Woven by women for their sons, these striking tunics are worn in winter months. The named design elements include birds with their young, pomegranate seeds, couscous grains, keys, forks and a table with guests, emphasising the harmony and domesticity of life within the community (1910,5-3.2)

You may well ask why am I referring to a tunic when the textile we are discussing is a rug? Well, the motifs on both textiles have similarity as do the stripes. As soon as I saw it I felt a similarity of origin.

In African Textiles: Colour and Creativity Across a Continent (which includes a section on North Africa) by John Gillow, published by Thames & Hudson in 2003, ISBN 0-500-51144-6, on page 121 is a:
Tapestry woven woollen blanket from Mzab valley, south central Algeria.

This seems to have a similar reddish background to Georges' and some similarity in end weft stripes. It has a few motifs with some similarity although it has a double white cross and balanced placement of decorative blocks as well as four sets of stripes narrow, but in the style of, the end stripes. Again, as soon as I saw it I felt recognition.

The text on page 120, discussing weaving in Algeria:
At one time Algeria had just as vibrant a handweaving tradition as its neighbours Morocco and Tunisia. It is sad to note that, since independence in 1962, much has been lost.............Further south in the Mzab region, in oasis towns such as Ghardaia and further south at El Golea, women wove striking tapestry-weave marriage shirts in wool for young bridegrooms. However, this tradition has now disappeared....

I have had a look in the collection of the British Museum and found a (one of two) tunic from Mzab with a good photo. Unfortunately I cannot post the image here as, although download for personal non/commercial use is allowed, this is limited to print only. This tunic has quite a few motifs on it with similarity to Georges' rug.

Museums in Paris might well be good sources of textiles from Algeria - perhaps the Musée National des Arts D'Afrique et d'Océanie as well as the Musée de l'Homme (both mentioned by John Gillow as having collections of African textiles). In Switzerland he mentions Basel - Museum für Völkerkunde and in Zurich - Vökerkunde Museum der Universität. Nothing listed for Geneva.

I cannot think of any current forum member with a collection/particular expertise in North African textiles, including Algeria. Perhaps one of our 'forum watchers' might be able to help. If so, do join us! Possibly the references to Algeria and Mzab in this post may generate some help later on as the search engines regularly crawl the forum.

Thanks for this interesting mystery textile. I hope that we may learn more in due course.

on-line tribal textiles resource

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