November 13, 2016
Flatweaves 101
From Alternating Soumak to Zili: The Basic Structures of Oriental Flatweaves

Some pictures
click on the thumbnail for the full picture.

Flat woven items have been cherished by nomadic weavers for their versatility and durable, lightweight construction.Flatweaves are said to predate pile weaving; and although felt may be older than the earliest flatweaves, there is no weaving in the making of felt. Flatweave structures are more complex than the limited varieties of knotted-pile techniques, and complicated flatweave variations can confound both the novice and dedicated collector. Most rug enthusiasts can readily identify the frequently encountered slit-weave tapestry construction of the kilim, with variations of this technique including dovetailed and interlocked tapestry. But beyond recognizing these relatively common kilim structures, many collectors are confused, baffled and bewildered. Quite often, flatweaves are constructed of multiple weaving techniques, complicating their identification and attribution.

This program discussed the basics of these techniques and present photos and weavings to illustrate them. The most commonly encountered flatweave structures include tapestry, soumak, weft-substitution, brocade, complementary weft weave, warp-substitution, warp float patterning and others.

This presentation was intended to enlighten, educate and increase your ability to identify and attribute the different types of flatweaves and related textiles. Often, their distinct construction techniques can assist in identifying their country, region and tribe of origin. They may also help to determine the usage of the weavings and the physical characteristics that make them suitable for those uses.

Patrick Weiler is the current President and Program Chairman of the STARS (the Seattle Textile and Rug Society,) and has been collecting mostly tribal rugs for over twenty years, with a particular emphasis on Luri pieces. He brought examples from his collection of flatweaves, and he invited IHBS members to bring examples of all kinds of flat-woven rugs and trappings techniques for show & tell.

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