Mafrash and Jajim
Everyday Textile-art from the Caucasus to Chorasan
Exhibition from 6/8 to 7/3 1999 in the Gallery
nomadic tribes of the Caucasus and northwestern Persia. They are
frequently mistaken for children's cradles on account of their rectangular
shape. Given the available natural resources and necessity of mobility,
most Mafrash are constructed in the slit or Sumakh-kilim style and are woven
of wool. Natural dyes were employed almost exclusively until the beginning of
the twentieth century. Although Mafrash were "everyday" objects, the weavers
often wrought veritable masterpieces of color and design. At that, the female
weavers were strictly confined by the traditional patterns of their respective tribes.
The Mafrash has only found its way into collections during the more recent decades.
As such, I am happy to present twenty examples taken from two collections. Amongst
these, for the first time, is a knotted Shasavan-mafrash in perfect condition.
were sewn together and the resulting product was used as a tablecloth or oven-coverlet.
Of course, they are also suited as throw-rugs. This particular kilim style was
employed, under various names, throughout the entire Near and Middle East. In my
opinion, Jajims are one of the still largely unappreciated flatweaves - incomprehensible
given their variety, beauty, and elegance. Twenty examples, predominantly northeast
Persian (Chorasan), but also from other Persian regions, are exhibited. Pattern and
designs (at times unquestionably human or serpentine) are largely unstudied, even today.
Most strip-kilims have been unwoven; their finely-spun, naturally-dyed wool has been
re-used for reproducing Sumakhbags, etc. They remain in high demand as sources for
repair-wools, and, as such, their numbers continue to be depleted.