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Oriental Carpets in Renaissance Painting (wikipedia.org)
36 points by prismatic on Sept 12, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 14 comments

Rugs used to be a way householders (especially those minding smaller children) could turn time into high-value low-mass export goods.

These days (and pretty much ever since the Industrial Revolution?), there's not so much (wo)manpower[1] involved, but the required space and capital investment are much higher.

e.g. https://www.staubli.com/en/textile/textile-machinery-solutio...

[1] Last century, a friend's father had a textile operation in HK. She told me he worried about his electricity bill, but wages were in the noise.

High quality rugs like these are still hand knotted and dyed in the same towns/cities that have historically made them. Using the same patterns and colors each area is sort of famous for.

But yes of course many, many more are made by machines and are much more affordable.

Real ones are great though. You can find all sorts of tiny “imperfections” and they have a certain mass that allows them to lay down nicely.

While traveling in a distant land, I once met a woman who was an avid rug collector. Her most prized rugs were those made by children because the weaves were only achievable by those with little fingers and good eyesight. She remarked that ages 4-10 were ideal. She was unconcerned about any possible child exploitation because the rugs were very beautiful after all.

A lot of the really nice, collectable ones are made by families. Some of them can take a number of years to make. They can run in the many thousands of dollars, which makes sense as they are 1 of a kind pieces of art. I wouldn’t doubt that the kids are making them too in certain cases and yeah, certainly room for abuse there.

The most sought after ones are of course antique or vintage ones. Some of the larger ones from the 1800’s can go for 6 figures or more.

Even today, for example, when you see the Pope giving mass, or some other formal event, he sits in the middle of an oriental carpet. And when you have some honored guest speaker on a wooden stage, a classier place will put down an oriental carpet as decoration along with leather chairs, etc.

Christopher Alexander has written a beautiful book about oriental carpets[1]. It really opened my eyes about the beauty and the depth of this art.

[1] https://archive.org/details/AForeshadowingOf21stCenturyArt

Is this cultural appropriation or would the Europeans have had to make copies of the carpets themselves to count?

"Cultural appropriation" is a hugely overused term that was originally developed to cover the combination of use of native American symbols with massive racism and systematic oppression towards the actual native Americans themselves.

To apply it there need to be those two elements. It would require sneering at the Persians for being unsophisticated while also making copies of the carpets. Orientalism has lots of problems of its own but it is not comparable to colonialism.

Maybe your comment has been written as a joke, but there are also Transylvanian rugs [1], which even though are not copies (but the originals themselves) the’ve “lived” their life long enough outside Anatolia in order to merit a new “name”.

> The name Transylvanian rug is used as a term of convenience to denote a cultural heritage of 15th–17th century Islamic rugs, mainly of Ottoman origin, which have been preserved in Transylvanian Protestant (Hungarian and Saxon) churches.[1][2] The corpus of Transylvanian rugs constitutes one of the largest collections of Ottoman Anatolian rugs outside the Islamic world.[3]

Strangely enough many of the people now living in Transylvania look at anything Turkish- or Anatolian-related with a clear air of superiority, presumably everything that matters comes from the West (if that’s from Germany that’s even better), is a very good thing that the Transylvanian Saxons from the 1500s or the 1600s were more culturally open-minded.

[1] https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Transylvanian_rugs

>"cultural appropriation"

you are joking, right?

I don't know why people think this question is so absurd. Orientalism is a classic case of cultural appropriation. Religious iconography was taken and used without understanding it, to the point of hanging prayer rugs upside down and writing faux Arabic script. Whether you think this was a pressing issue for the medieval period is another thing entirely. My guess is the Islamic world would have happily continued selling us rugs if we weren't busy calling crusades against.

> My guess is the Islamic world would have happily continued selling us rugs if we weren't busy calling crusades against.

How do you think there came to be an "Islamic world" in the first place? Anatolia was Christian centuries before Muhammed was born. Persia was Zoroastrian centuries before that. The early Muslims were colonizing and building empires long before Europeans started crusading.

You could just as plausibly castigate Islamic architects for "culturally appropriating" the Byzantine Christian design of the Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople for mosques. But it's a limited, misleading, and uninteresting way to think about history.

How did you twist my aside that it wasn't important all things considered into me castigating Europeans? I was pointing out how trivial cultural appropriation is as a problem while acknowledging its existence.

How do you think we kick-started the porcelain and silk industries in Europe ?

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