Collecting the Uncollectible: Kurdish Flatweaves of Afreen
September 19, 2010
Lecture by Yaser Al Sighrji

Some pictures
click on the thumbnail for the full picture.

The Kurds from the region of Afreen in northwestern Syria have had a longtime tradition of weaving colorful flat-woven kilims. These kilims were woven in colored panels with whimsical cicim-type decorations, and assembled into multi-panel rugs. Using a slideshow of relevant pictures, Yaser Al Saghrji’s talk will introduce the weavers of Afreen with a brief history of the people, and how their environment has impacted the weavings they produced through the materials, tools, dyes, techniques and symbols that are employed. He will describe a traditional Kurdish home and how it dictated the functionality of the rugs, and his talk will include a review of the various types of kilims and carpets. Each type of Afreen weaving will be displayed and discussed, ending with the factors that caused the weavings from Afreen to come to a halt by the early 1950s.

Yaser Al Saghrji was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, and is a graduate of Damascus University in English literature. Since he was a teenager, when he specialized in flatweaves in his uncle’s oriental carpet store in the huge and ancient Al-Hamidiyya Souq, Yaser has been a carpet store manager, buyer and rug business owner, traveling all over the Middle East to find antique carpets and tribal pieces for customers. Since 1996 Yaser has been the owner of Yana Kilims in Damascus, specializing in tribal flatweaves of the rug producing countries. In 2003 he co-founded the Alwan Afreen to study the feasibility of establishing a weaving revival project, and to collect and research weavings from Afreen for the purpose of publishing a book. He hosted an exhibition of his personal collection of weavings from Afreen in Khan Assaad Basha in 2006, and published an article in the May/June 2006 issue HALI Magazine on the weavings from Afreen. South Persian nomads were among the most prolific of weavers, making both pile pieces and flatweaves. The many small, colorful utilitarian bags and trappings that enhanced their lifestyle are extremely charming and collectible.

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