Tuesday I made it over to the De Young museum to see the kilim show that I had been eagerly awaiting. Wow! For years, I have admired these kilims from the photographs in the book, Anatolian kilims. But to see them “live and in person” is a completely different experience.
My first impression was of how monumentally large some of these kilims really are. It is impossible to get a sense of spacial perspectiv by looking at these rugs in a book. But, hanging on the wall I was able to appreciate to grandeur of of these textiles.
Second, third and forth impressions were all about color, color, color! The colors are radiant. The colors are living. The colors are true. Looking at these kilims is like looking at a field of wildflowers.
Next thing I sensed while looking at these rugs was their great age. I’ve looked at a lot of old kilims over the years (including this recent great show in Istanbul) but I have never seen so many very old pieces all assembled at the same time. Kilims are not as sturdy as knotted pile rugs plus many of them served more utilitarian purposes. Hence, it is not common to find kilims much over 100 years old. But every piece in this show was at least 200 years old and some as much as 400 years old!
Following on, I began to pay attention to the powerful patterns and designs. Looking at these kilims up close allowed my eyes to dance and dart and explore the mystery of these archaic tribal designs.
And finally, standing close to the rugs allowed me to examine the subtleties that make each of these rugs so unique. In the details, you can almost sense the weavers’ personality; the playful embellishments and the structural fineness the improvisations within the fixed format of a given design, the perfect “imperfections”. All of these elements are a reflection of the weavers’ art and these textiles are living embodiments of their creators’ care and attention.
Well, in case you can’t tell by now, I thoroughly enjoyed this show! I plan on visiting several more times since the show is on display until through June 10th of 2012. And I encourage you to check it out! Thank you to the staff of the De Young and to the various sponsors who made this show happen! And thanks for reading. Chris