Re: Is This A Prayer Rug?

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Posted by Steve Price on December 03, 1998 at 14:05:08:

In Reply to: Is This A Prayer Rug? posted by Irwin Kirsch on December 03, 1998 at 09:44:30:

Dear Irwin and Friends,

There are at least three definitions of "prayer rug". They are not mutually exclusive, and a rug could meet all three, any two, or just one. The definitions are:
1. A rug used in Moslem devotions as the clean place necessary for prayer.
2. A rug around 3' x 5'.
3. A rug with an arch in the design at or near one end.

There's no way to know if this one meets definition #1. However, it is stretched horizontally toward the bottom, and that's where weight is concentrated when kneeling in prayer. Also, the fringe at the bottom is more worn than that at the top, as might be expected if it were used for prayer. On the other hand, there's nothing in its iconography suggestive of religious symbolism.

It meets definition #2, and would be called "prayer size" in some markets.

I'd grudgingly say that it meets #3, although the arch is not proportioned like a representation of a mihrab, even a highly stylized one. The second arch makes no sense within the prayer rug context.

So, I guess, in some sense it's certainly a prayer rug, but I'd be skeptical about the likelihood that it was used in religious practices or woven with such a use in mind. And from the perspective of a discussion on ethnographic rugs, it's "prayer rug size" is irrelevant.

Does this help or did I muddy things further?

Steve Price

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