Re: A dowry rug?

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Posted by Tom Cole on November 16, 1998 at 19:10:07:

In Reply to: A dowry rug? posted by Wendel Swan on November 16, 1998 at 12:45:06:

: Daniel and visitors,

: A few comments need to be made about the often used word "dowry." I hope that others with personal experience can comment further.

: A "dowry" will have different meanings, depending upon the group, place, customs and economic level of the woman having the dowry.

: A textile within a dowry need not have been woven specifically by a girl herself for her own dowry. The rugs, bags or other textiles in it may be gifts from relatives, most likely the mother or an aunt. In wealthy or influential families of the Qashqai, the nanny ("bibi") may make special efforts to weave for the dowry of her charge. In Persia, such weavings are referred to as "bibi bouf" or nanny weavings and the term is also used as a measure of quality.

: The dowry may also contain heirloom items that are passed from generation to generation or a mother may begin working on weavings with a young daughter which may (or may not) one day be a part of the dowry. Just as with money in the bank, items may pass in and out of the dowry and the selection of objects for the dowry may take place over a long time. Textiles need not be knowingly woven for the dowry.

: It is true that a young girl and her family would put into her dowry items that are as good as circumstances permit. The dowry of the daughter of a chief may have exquisite textiles while that of a girl from a poor family may have inexpensive, almost commercial grade, pieces. So there is really no way of telling now which piece may have originally been intended for a dowry or whether the piece was ever in a dowry. Superb pieces could be woven under a variety of circumstances and either for personal use or for sale, trade or gift.

: Thus, the fact that the Khamseh piece before us seems to have been made with exceptional wool and color does not necessarily mean that it was woven by a girl for her own dowry. My general observation is that the better weavers (more experienced and with greater technical skills) use or were supplied with the better wool, dyes and looms.

: So what do we mean by a dowry rug? Would it include one begun by a girl for her own dowry but not retained after it is completed? If a khordjin is woven by a bibi, then cut in half and one half goes into a dowry and the other does not, are they both dowry bags?

: These are questions without answers, but I think they illustrate the difficulty of using the word dowry. The old pieces we occasionally see in pristine condition are possibly the ones most likely to be entitled to be called "ex-dowry" textiles, for there exists some evidence of the reason that the object was not used, but even that is not good evidence for the application of the term "dowry."

: Wendel

One would think there is information on the specific tribal custom associated with the Khamseh as to what exactly might be made for dowry. For example, the dowry items of the Turkoman are well documented and DO NOT include the production of rugs, per se, but rather trappings and bags for domestic use. Do the Khamseh have a known tradition? I don't know. Does someone better versed in the customs of the Khamseh care to comment?

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