Woven Jewels from the Black Tents – Georgia Museum of Art

Press release Georgia Museum of Art – 13 March 2006

Woven Jewels from the Black Tents: Baluchi, Aimaq, and Related Tribal Weavings of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Koran Bag with TasselsATHENS, GA- Woven Jewels from the Black Tents: Baluchi, Aimaq, and Related Tribal Weavings of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, an exhibition of beautiful weavings from the tribes that populate the region known as Baluchistan, will be on view at the Georgia Museum of Art from May 20 through July 30, 2006.

The women of the nomadic and settled Baluchi tribes of eastern Iran, western Afghanistan and southwestern Pakistan have long produced distinctively beautiful weavings, largely for their own use but also for the outside market. Baluchi rugs are known for the velvety quality of their pile and the silky sheen of the fine wool used. The geometric designs employed are often intricate and always pleasing.

This will be the first comprehensive exhibition of the whole range of Baluchi and related weavings, including flatwoven kilims and pile rugs. To bring the Baluchi weaving scene up to date, a number of rugs produced during the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s will be featured.

“Certainly, the study of the peoples of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan is a topical one,” said William U. Eiland, the director of the Georgia Museum of Art. “And we are pleased to present to our public beautiful examples of the art – a utilitarian art – of the region’s folk.”

The items on display have been selected from prominent and less known collections. They include both folk and more sophisticated weavings, and display not only the range of designs ad colors used by Baluchi weavers, but also the variety of ways they are used.

The Baluch are made up of several different groups that reside in mostly marginal, arid environments in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. They are a collection of people whose native language is, or recently was, Baluchi, a tongue similar to other West Persian languages like Kurdish.

There is not much known about the history of the Baluchistan region, where the Baluch reside. After being conquered by Alexander the Great in 330 B.C., it was ruled by the Greeks. In the 17th century, it was governed by India, though it has been under the rule of the local chiefs for much of its existence.

Today, more than six million people in the region are considered part of the Baluchi tribe. The weavings most commonly recognized as Baluchi come from the mountains of Heart and the adjacent provinces of Afghanistan and Iran’s Khorasan Province to the west. The Baluch, like other Islamic societies, view rugs and textiles as a form of wealth. The rugs are typically small and woven on portable, horizontal looms, occasionally as two lengthwise halves then sewn together.

This exhibition is generously sponsored by Benefactor Patricia I. Cooper, the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation, and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.

For more information, visit  www.uga.edu/gamuseum

Contact: Johnathan McGinty, public relations coordinator.

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