A magical carpet ride

Little did the nomadic tribes of Turkey and Iran know that the carpets they wove would travel across the world, and finally land in India, a hundred and fifty years later; in the hands of collector Danny Mehra.

Carpets on Display
‘Carpet Stories’ at Kynkyny Art
Display-2
Each carpet has a story to tell

‘Carpet Stories’ at Kynkyny Art, has a display of carpets from Central Asia and the Middle East, that date back to the mid-19th to early 20th century.

A Memling Gul Kazak, Caucasian
A Memling Gul Kazak, Caucasian

History is passed on to us in the form of books, paintings and sculptures. These carpets on the other hand give a fragment of history that deals with the day-to-day lives of people. The stories of the tribes of Turkey, Iran and Armenia seem to be woven in these century old yarns. In Danny’s own words, “Each carpet’s story is open to different interpretations, and this is what adds a romantic element to the carpets.”

The carpets were made of sheep wool, and were woven primarily by the women. The men were in charge of dyeing and selling. Natural dyes were used, which resulted in mellow colors.

Danny Mehra delivers a talk on the Iconography found in Tribal Carpets
Danny Mehra delivers a talk on the Iconography found in Tribal Carpets

Danny gave us a talk on the Iconography used in Tribal carpets. We looked at and understood the different symbols used in carpets. Motifs like camels signifying wealth, birds signifying faith, Boteh signifying the Universe, among many others like ram’s horns, stars,  Eibelinde, scorpions were discussed.

Keelam, a non-pile carpet. Danny refers to this as the UFO motifs!
Keelam, a non-pile carpet. Danny refers to this as the UFO motifs!
Amulet Display
Amulets or a Talisman Motif, to bring good luck
Tree of Life Carpet
The ‘Tree of Life’ motif symbolizing growth and eternal life

This was then followed up by the live demonstration of the restoration of carpets. It is important to get the right color and texture while conserving the carpets.

Restoration Tools used in the process
Restoration Tools used in the process
Hussain, who has been working with Danny for three years now, works on flattening the carpet
Hussain, who has been working with Danny for three years now, works on flattening the carpet
Working on attaching the knots on the underlying warp and weft - A n example of restoration of a Pile Carpet
Working on attaching the knots on the underlying warp and weft – A n example of restoration of a Pile Carpet

It’s interesting to note that Islamic Art usually doesn’t include animal and human motifs, however nomads were imaginative and included all types of motifs.

Ganja Caucasian-2

symmetrycarpet
While going through the stack of carpets, we come across this Bakhtiari carpet which displays a mirror image in its weaving
Geunge
A Geunge carpet, Caucasian
A carpet used for Prayers
A carpet used for Prayers

The carpets range from Rs.40,000 to Rs.4,00,000; based on how old and rare a piece is. Most of us might look for perfection when we think of buying a piece, but I learnt that the beauty of a carpet lies in its imperfections. The carpet may have gradated color tones because a certain batch of yarn would not have matched the hue of the previous. Certain carpets may not be perfectly rectangular, and that is because, nomadic in nature that they were, the tribes would travel from one place to another, assembling and disassembling the loom and weaving in installments. This gave the carpets an uneven width. Fragments, incomplete pieces of carpets are considered an entire category in itself as well.

Uneven Carpet
A Carpet with uneven width
Gradient Carpet
A ‘Abrash’ carpet showing the differences in colour of yarn used gradually.

The experience was truly a magical carpet ride!

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