July 13, 2012

Harmonious co-existence

Sandcarpet, Drenthe, The Netherlands **

I don't want to say to much about these images, because I just don't know enough about the making of temporary carpets yet. And I think these images show how strongly this tradition is connected globally. It doesn't mean it has to be influenced by each other. I started working myself in a tradition with making my ricecarpets without realizing or looking at examples. The choices I made went natural, working with this material it logical to work from the center outwards. The symbols that I use have to be in harmony, so naturally a pattern occurs. At first I based my ricecarpets on real carpets, including tassels of lentils (see ricecarpets from 2007 on www.sabinebolk.nl).
I still love to look and read about tradition carpets. I recently bought this really lovely book "Early Decorative Textiles". The textiles, mostly carpets used for wall decoration from the 3th till 11th century, already have this structure of a bigger images in the center (in a circle) surrounded by abstract symbols forming a pattern.

Tonight I'm going to make a ricecarpet that will form the base of a soundpiece by Husc. To prepare for it I'm looking at carpets. The old ones in my new purchased book, designs by Theo Colebrander (1841 - 1930), only the designs are published in the book, which gives it a really abstract, surreal appearance and oriental carpets. The last one, 'Oosterse tapijten', I own a couple of year now and I used some of the patterns in my ricecarpets, but I never read the intro before yesterday. The book from 1968 tells about how the tradition of making oriental carpets is getting lost and with it the knowledge and craftsmanship. Is there a tradition not on the verge of extinction? Or has the world of carpet making improved much since the 70's?
Thinking about how to make music with my temporary carpet, I came across this sentence in 'Oosterse Tapijten': "The workshop foreman dictated which colours wool yarn his craftsmen had to knot one by one by singing a melopee (monotonous chant)."
I'm reading and learning more every day about the traditions that fascinate, inspire and makes me the artist I am today. I hope I can honor these traditions and continue my work with respect for all use of temporary carpets, without loosing my own natural way of making my ricecarpets.

"In olden days, kolams used to be drawn in coarse rice flour, so that the ants don't have to work that much for to long for a meal. The rice powder is said to invite birds and other small critters to eat it, thus inviting other beings into one's home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity."
- From Wikipedia

For the Tamil festival of Pongal, when the first of the new crop of rice is offered to the Sun God, Surya, elaborate drawings (kolam) made of rice flour are created in front of village houses. Tamil Nadu, India, 2000 *
Sandcarpet by Zwaantje Hans in Schoonebeek, The Netherlands ***
A complete domestic altar of Lakshmi for seasonal Lakshmipuja, the floor is decorated with alpana (rice powder mixed in water), Calcutta, 2001 *
Zwaantje Hans making sandcarpet, 1946 **

Kolam drawing, Tamil Nadu, India, 2000 *

* Scans and information from the book 'The Art of Rice' by Roy W. Hamilton
** Scans from Nederlands Openluchtmuseum Balie BiDoc
*** Scan from the book 'volkskunst der lage landen 1'

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