Tag Archives: motifs

Myth and Design, as presented by Thomas Cole at Arastan

Scorpion Boteh

As it was once said, “We are who we were…” And it is this truism that Tom Cole, internationally acclaimed Central Asian carpet and textile expert, brought to life vividly and evocatively in the talk he gave for Arastan last Wednesday.

Tom talked with great depth and knowledge not just about the crafts but the historical, cultural and symbolic linkages that accompany them. As one who specialises in tribal weavings and textiles of artistic, historical and ethnographic significance from Central Asia, Tom is the position to do so very authoritatively. As he put it to an interested and involved audience, his presentation on ‘Myth and Design’ endeavoured to identify pervasive myths and symbolism at the core of our very existence as human beings – as illustrated in patterns and symbols spanning the breadth of the Asian continent.

Supported by interesting and relevant visuals, Tom talked about certain images and icons that …

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Carpet Motifs: A Beginner’s Guide

Scarab in a Qashqai rug

Nisha’s instruction was clear and simple: go and look for Caucasian rugs. My search led me to the warehouse of Memet Bozbay, an affable Kurdish carpet trader, whom I had led to believe that I was a professional buyer. He pulled out heaps of Armenian, Kurdish and Kazak rugs, many characterised by bold colours, high piles, and unusual motifs. Gesturing to one of them he commented, “And here, again, you can see the typical Caucasian dragon motif.”

I scanned the carpet’s field expecting to find a flamboyant dragon spewing fire, but I couldn’t make out anything at all resembling a dragon or a serpent. In the centre of the carpet there was, however, an interesting form that appeared somewhat insect-like. “You mean this thing in the middle that looks like a cockroach?” I asked innocently. The dealer gave me a puzzled look and hesitated to respond—he must have been struggling to …

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