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Yaser_Al_Saghrjie December 15th, 2010 02:05 PM

Complementary Books
When I started to get interested in reading and researching textiles I would pick books the title of which would have any of what I thought at the time a "key-word" such as: rugs, carpets, kilims, flatweaves, weavings, textiles, trappings etc.

At the time my mind was occupied in finding out more about different techniques and shapes, what things from a certain area looked like, common features of a certain tribal group and color pallette of another. Books like: Kilims The Complete Guide by Hull and Luczycwyhowska, The Antique Collectors Club series, Tribal Rugs by James Opie, Oriental Carpet Designs by P.R.J. Ford and many other books filled my small library.

In the Hali Fair Olympia-London, June 2002, however, I realized that I was missing a lot by reading only those books. At that fair there was a booth for books related to rugs. I don't remember the name of the person or the company that was running it but I remember that I went there to see what the new topics were. The bold face on the cover of a bigger book was the reason I picked The Nomadic People of Iran a collection of essays by different authors about different tribes and tribal areas in today's Iran. It was the first non-textile book I've ever bought- even though Mr. Thompson's name was very familiar to me. I read the book in three days and especially the two articles: The people of Boyer Ahmad by Erika Friedl and The Kurds of Khorassan by Mohammad Hussein Papoli Yazdi sort of framed the pictures I had about those peoples from carpet books.

From that time on I started to read topics related to the area where rugs are woven and books like The Great Game or Three Camels to Smyrna and many others started to enrich my library. These books today I categorize as COMPLEMENTARY BOOKS because only when you start reading such titles one starts to fill the gap one has.

Wendel Swan December 16th, 2010 04:30 PM

Hello Yaser,

You have made a very important point about the process of learning about oriental rugs and textiles. As the books have become more and more specialized, we have lost all sense of the cultural, historical and aesthetic contexts of the textiles we study.

I have long advocated that rugs and textiles should be viewed as Islamic art. (I use that term somewhat loosely since many of our textile traditions pre-date the founding of Islam.) Rug and textile enthusiasts should acquire one or two books on Islamic art among the first dozen books that they buy. Several general volumes are available in paperback at very reasonable prices and there are good catalogs from exhibitions of Islamic art.

Some rug and textile books are good at relating the history and customs of the weavers, but I can't recall seeing even one that seriously compares rug and textile designs with what can be found in architecture, ceramics, metal work, Koran covers, glass and other media. As a result, rug collectors tend to be myopic in their views of rugs and textiles.

Wendel Swan

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