November 3, 2013
Exploring The Little Known: Textiles of the South Balkans
Tim & Penny Hayes
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Little known in North America, the Balkan territories of the Ottoman Empire were home to several well developed weaving traditions. Kilim and rug weaving was a significant social and economic activity among the region’s Muslim and Christian inhabitants from the 15th Century until the first quarter of the 20th Century. With much influence from Anatolia (and to a lesser extent from the Caucasus), the Balkan peoples created their own weaving style and design repertoire. This talk showed examples of rug and kilim production from Serbia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia.
The presentation highlighted similarities and differences in weaving technique, design, and aesthetics among the various national, ethnic, and confessional groups which comprised the pre-World War I population of the region. It briefly described the important place folk textiles played as symbols of national identity in the post-Ottoman period-especially in Serbia and Bulgaria.
The talk included information developed from the study of 19th century historical sources and from new information gathered during three focused research trips the speakers made to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Turkey in 2012 and 2013.
Tim and Penny Hays have collected kelims, textiles, and rugs since the late 1980s but did not become interested in Balkan weaving until they attended the 2007 ICOC in Istanbul. Their interest was sparked by an ICOC lecture, and they purchased their first Balkan piece—a Pirot kelim—at the dealer’s fair there. They also met at ICOC Davut Mizrahi, the Austrian dealer specializing in Balkan weavings. After this wonderful introduction, there was no going back. Tim and Penny became enthusiastic collectors of Balkan textiles, with an emphasis on Manastir kelims from Eastern Bulgaria. They have continued to research the many facets of Balkan weaving and have been fortunate enough to engage in numerous discussions with Davut and Austrian collector Erhard Stoebe, who are the authors of the only English-language book on Manastir weavings. Tim and Penny made their first study tour to Bulgaria and Serbia in 2012 and just returned a couple of weeks ago from their second study tour of Bulgaria.
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