RK founded the Weaving Art Museum and began the long process of filing for nonprofit status as a public charity organization in 1997. In 1998 the Weaving Art Museum website went online and in 2002 the Museum received permanent status as a charity organization.
Since 1998 many tens of thousands of unique users, ie individual visitors, have seen our website and the various exhibitions on topics including Ancient textiles, Asyute Shawls of Egypt and Turkmen weavings.
We are confident many, if not all, RugKazbah.com readers are included in those numbers but we are curious how many have bothered to read the Welcome, or mission statement on WAMRI's homepage?
So we decided to post it here.
Welcome to the Weaving Art Museum website.
The Museum has been established to promote increased appreciation for the historic weaving art of indigenous weaving cultures located in the Eastern Mediterranean and the adjacent areas known as the Caucasus Mountains and Southwestern Turkmenistan.
Because the anonymous weavers responsible for producing these artworks were located in remote, outlying often mountainous regions their social and economic lifestyles remained virtually unaffected by the sweeping political, military and technological changes these regions experienced from circa 1500-1850.
Their weaving traditions were originated in response to both utilitarian and cultural needs that were never associated with export, sale or trade to outsiders. The sources of the designs and patterns found on the earliest archetype examples, which are the focus of the Museum's interests, have ancient roots and are believed to carry important non-secular connotations and meanings.
For example it is known some groups, particularly those from Turkmenistan, considered certain examples of their weaving culture to possess spiritual and magical properties. Since the Turkmen as well as all the other indigenous weaving cultures were non-literate, the roles such weavings played in shamanic and other clan-based ceremonies and rituals can only be gleaned from their oral traditions. Needless to say these treasures of the loom, as well as others from other areas, are shrouded in both history and mystery.
In comparison the vast majority of the weavings produced in the ateliers and court sponsored manufactories of the Ottoman (Turkish) and the Safavid (Iranian) Courts, the main two centers of power and change in the Near East, are far more easily researched and understood. While they also fulfilled utilitarian function, these weavings were intended as decorative items indicative of a high-culture or royal lifestyle. They were not necessities of lifestyle, as were those made by the indigenous clan-based communities described above, but rather accessories for it.
There is little doubt royal weavings and their design motifs are beautiful. However since they were artist contrived and not culturally derived, their designs and patterns lack the iconographic magic and mystery found on the products of these other weaving traditions.
Simply put because indigenous clan-based weaving communities and their special iconographies were far more directly connected to the archaic civilizations that developed them. The large corpus of decorated archaeological remains, particularly ceramics, recovered at the numerous pre-Bronze Age sites found in the exact areas where these weavings were produced proves this. It also demonstrates the incredibly long history of societal development that occurred and, more significantly, the archaic roots these weaving cultures and their associated design traditions were able to somehow maintain.
The masterpiece weavings of the Ottomans and Safavids are already quite well known and justly appreciated thanks to their representation and exhibition in many of the world's major museums. Unfortunately this notoriety is not shared by these other equally important weavings made by unknown weavers without such connection. The Weaving Art Museum has been founded to correct this and our virtual exhibitions that feature them have already been seen by tens of thousands of viewers.
Previously weavings like those shown here on our website were known only to a very small group of cognoscenti and the Museum's continuing mission is to make them and other masterwork examples of knotted-pile, kelim, soumak, as well other textile techniques, more familiar to a broad, general audience.
Our exhibition topics and collection highlight the rarely seen, exceptionally beautiful, prototypes and we are fortunate to have received a number of them on temporary loan. Both individually and as specific groups they demonstrate a rich and archaic iconography.
Regrettably these weavings have yet to undergo scientific scrutiny utilizing even the most rudimentary forensic tools that are now available. The Museum's associated Research Institute intends to remedy this situation by undertaking and funding forensic research to directly address this as well as other provenance issues.
Our web site and virtual exhibitions will be for the immediate future the Weaving Art Museum and Research Institute's most visible presence. During this initial period of growth, the Museum plans to continue hosting digital exhibitions that will continue to focus attention on these types of Near Eastern weavings.
The next stage of development will begin with increased funding. The Museum's Research Institute will then be able to begin forensic testing on the various groups of prototype weavings in our collection and others, both public and private. It will also make possible the collection and testing of contemporary wool and dyestuff samples to more accurately determine the locations where these prototype weavings were produced. It is also envisioned that during this period, the Museum will be endowed to begin building its own collection and become actively involved in seeking appropriate venues for physical exhibitions.
The final stage of development will see the Museum sited in an appropriate physical location with exhibition space, as well as storage facilities for its collection and offices for the Research Institute.