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Author Topic:   Can You Help Identify This Textile?
Richard posted 2/1/03 1:23 AM     Click here to send email to Richard  
I bought this at a yard sale in Virginia. It was described as an"Indonesian Rug". It is neither Indonesian nor is it a rug. It is a great metal thread piece with cotton and or silk. It is hard to tell because the texture is overwhelmed by the metal threads. 70cm x 140 cm with a 5 cm fringe of metal thread added. I know it is not Indonesian as the pictures were reviewed by a noted Indonesian textile expert. He told me that it looks SE Asian and mayhave some ties to India but wasn't sure. I do not know how old but it isdefinitely used as you can see from the photos. Sorry for the photo quality as this was hard to photograph. To see this rextile follow the following link: http://photos.yahoo.com/bc/rgmook@prodigy.net/lst?.dir=/MYSTERY+3&.view=tThank you in advance for all of your valued insights.

Serena Lee Harrigan posted 2/2/03 11:46 PM     Click here to send email to Serena  Lee Harrigan  
This is such an interesting piece! From the colors and the metallic threads I would have guessed that it's from Sumatra, Indonesia. I've seen many beautiful sarongs from Palembang in red and metallic. I've also seen Indian saris woven with shapes like the stepladder diagonals in this piece. But I've never seen anything like this in a "rug" weight. The shape of it suggests that it's a wall hanging which led me to consider whether it is from the Middle East or that at least it has Islamic origins. I sent your photos to a friend who works in Middle Eastern collections at Harvard Museum and he confirmed that this is from Syria. Here is what he had to say, "It is classic Syrian weaving probably ca. late 19th c. It is tapestry woven and they were either made of cotton and metallic threads of silk and metallic threads. This could conceivably be half of a large cover or a sofa cover purpose made in that shape. Similar material in the same technique was used to make abas, rather dramatic coats, either in two panels sewn together horizontally or in one long single one. Due to the edging around three sides, this could not be a refugee from one of those. The greatest production was from Aleppo, but Damascus was involved in a pretty big way, plus a couple of other sites."
posted 2/3/03 2:07 PM     Click here to send email to Pamela  
Serena, thanks so much for consulting the 'expert'! It is a very interesting textile. Fascinating how one can start to get a sense of piece without specific knowledge. The design reminded me a little of Palestinian embroideries, especially the 'leaf' effects on a modern cushion I have. A few years ago there was a very excellent exhibition on Palestinian embroidery at the Museum of Mankind (British Museum) and I made several visits and have some good books written by Shelagh Weir, curator, Middle East collections. I have a small Turkman ikat hanging from Central Asia which has some similar metalic fringing around it. Since this is very much along 'the Silk Route' and Syria is also on this historic textile highway it is likely that both influences and individual trimmings might move along it. Pamela
Serena Lee Harrigan posted 2/4/03 0:11 AM     Click here to send email to Serena  Lee Harrigan  
It also makes sense that there were suggestions that this piece was from Indonesia or India as both these places (as the Turkomen) have been influenced by the Moslem culture, although I don't know enough about these motifs to assume that these are Islamic. The metallic threads in these weavings is very interesting too--I wonder if anyone knows whether we can trace this to the Islamic culture.
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