Re: Is This A Prayer Rug?

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Posted by Pat Weiler on December 05, 1998 at 12:31:10:

In Reply to: Re: Is This A Prayer Rug? posted by Jerry Silverman on December 03, 1998 at 19:30:24:

: : Prayer rugs?

: I am beginning to join those who wonder just how many so-called prayer rugs were really used for prayer. Maybe they were just regarded as pleasing patterns by the weavers. Or maybe they were popular at the bazaar, and what was once for personal use was replicated for commerce. (Where is Mr. Know-it-all's Way Back Machine when we really need it?)

: -Jerry-


Moslems were not the only weavers of "prayer rugs". In Weavers, Merchants and Kings, by Lucy Der Manuelian and Murray L. Eiland, there are several "prayer rugs" ascribed to Armenian christian weavers. "...the concept of the prayer rug and its decoration should not be seen as purely Islamic. Surely there is much in the decorative vocabulary of both Armenian and Byzantine churches that could provide a basis for this design format..."

If our romanticised notions of prayer rugs and our desire to collect them springs from the idea of a Moslem prostrate in prayer in an "ethnographic" setting, our solipsism is showing! :-)

Rug #3 is strikingly similar to plate 11 in Oriental Rugs of the Hajji Babas. It is as if a customer asked for that design, with the same colors, in a bag format.
My humble opinion is that there was a local dying company that provided the weavers with the wool and the regionally or commercially popular styles/sizes. It is well known that a cottage industry in settled villages wove in this fashion. It does not detract from my appreciation of these weavings as "ethnographic". Ethnographic seems to encompass a wider range of weavings than specifically tribal utilitarian pieces.

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