Abstraction in Persian Tribal Flatweaves

Category: Lectures

Image1The Textile Arts Council presents “Primitivism and Abstraction in Persian Tribal Flatweaves with Alberto Levi” Saturday 13 February, 10AM in Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, San Francisco.

The respected gallery owner and scholar Alberto Levi will discuss a recently discovered group of flatweaves from the Mazandaran region of northern Iran. These extraordinary textiles display uniquely primitive patterns and minimalist color combinations of great beauty.

This presentation will focus on various groups of Persian flatwoven textiles, all of which are distinguished by stark color contrasts and bold graphics. These tribal flatweaves bear strong  resemblances to western abstract contemporary art.

All of these textiles were originally intended as utilitarian objects and were often woven by the tribeswomen as an important part of their dowry. These had a variety of practical uses in daily nomadic life, primarily within the tent. Jajims, which are long flatweaves woven in the warpface technique, were used to decorate the inner perimeter of the tent.

Perdehs were first woven as simple weft-faced textiles, then the panels were individually dip-dyed in a bath of a specific color and subsequently joined to each other, often in dazzling combinations.

These textiles were then used as tent dividers, defining specific areas within the tent. Sofrehs were either used to present food to guests or to store bread.

Tachehs were used as grain bags by the Bakhtiari tribe of western Persia. When opened from their side fastenings they reveal tribal textiles that are among the most visually striking. In this bag we see a plethora of weaving techniques, some of which have no structural basis but are used as pure embellishments. The abstract motifs that result from these embellishments are related to the Zoroastrian origin of the tribe and serve as amulets, protecting the bag and its precious contents.

Levi will also examine a recently discovered group of flatweaves originating from the Mazandaran region, situated in northern Iran near the Caspian Sea. These are distinguished by uniquely primitive patterns and minimalist color combinations that reflect a staggering modernism.

Alberto Levi has been actively studying Persian tribal rugs and textiles for many years. He has published a number of papers on Kurdish weavings in textile art publications, including Ghereh and Hali, for which he serves as a regular contributing editor. He lives in Milan, where he has a gallery specializing in tribal textile art.

Date and place: Saturday 13 February, 10AM in Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118.

Source: The Textile Arts Council


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