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Weaving Magic. Carpets from the Orient


Weaving Magic

Carpets from the Orient

Opening Date: 25.7.2024

Closing Date: 1.2.2025

Curators: Na'ama Brosh, Idit Sharoni


For centuries, the art of rug weaving has occupied an important place in Islamic culture. The various rug designs and motifs reflected symbolic and conceptual meaning and passed from one generation to the next, adapting to the changing surroundings. These rugs, also known as Oriental rugs, were adopted by Renaissance painters and European nobility as sought-after exotic items and are considered the predecessors of modern carpets, including those in Israel. Alongside their functional role, Oriental rugs became associated with magic and mystique and were depicted, among others in the "flying carpet", an image that transcends cultures and time, gaining numerous expressions in cinema, literature, comics and art.

The first part of the exhibition presents a selection of Islamic rugs from the museum's collection that are among the most splendid and intricate woven in Islamic countries. These rugs, intended for use in royal palaces, date back over four centuries and their preservation is nothing short of miraculous. Their patterns—geometric, floral, medallion, paradise, and prayer rugs—reflect the regions and eras in which they were created.

The second part examines the influence of Oriental carpets on the art of carpet weaving in Israel, a craft considered seminal in the development of Israeli art. Its influence is evident in rugs, particularly prayer rugs, woven at institutions like the "Torah U'Melacha School" in Jerusalem (est. in 1882) and at "Bezalel" (founded in Jerusalem in 1906). These rugs were woven with patterns inspired by Muslim prayer niches and depicted prominent figures from the Zionist Movement.

Alongside the rugs, the exhibition displays artworks of contemporary Israeli artists who explore the symbolism of the rug in examination of personal, cultural, and national identity. Among the participating artists are Fatma Shanan, Asad Azi, Fatma Abu Rumi, Tal Shochat and others.

The third part of the exhibition is dedicated to the "flying carpet". The secret of its magic and its flight and teleportational capabilities ascribed to it in different cultures are presented through storytellers: 'King Solom and the Flying Carpet', 'The Three Brothers', 'The Thief of Baghdad', and 'Aladin'. These stories transformed the flying carpet into a motif that transcends time and place, one that still features today in cinema, literature, comics and art. Among the exhibits are illustrations by Dudu Geva and Nahum Gutman, comic books, novels, and films etc., Aladdin's cave and more.

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