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Magic Carpets of Turkey: A Travelogue and Exhibit

Submitted by The Magic Carpet

Of all the fascinating lore around the art and history of carpet weaving, no story is more inspiring than that of the Turkish Yuruk master weavers in the DOBAG cooperative and their revival of the tradition of naturally dyed hand-knotted rugs, all but lost to modern production. This story will be told in a special travelogue and exhibit “DOBAG Rugs: Returning to the Roots of Vegetable Dyes,” at The Magic Carpet in Nevada City on Saturday, May 9, 7:00 PM, presented by Eileen and Paul Jorgensen. The Jorgensens recently returned from a reunion with the Yuruk women of western Turkey who still live simple lives within small communities and weave magnificent DOBAG rugs (DOBAG is a Turkish acronym for Natural Dye Research and Development Project). A collection of over 60 of these woven works of art, along with other beautiful and rare items from the Jorgensens’ journey, will be in the exhibit at The Magic Carpet.

A beautiful rug from the DOBAG project.

A beautiful rug from the DOBAG project.

The travelogue presentation will include slides and videos from Istanbul along the Turquoise Coast and into the DOBAG villages. Come experience the Yuruk lifestyle and village-scape, with women preparing natural dyed wool and weaving magnificent rugs knot by knot. The Jorgensens will share their adventures with the DOBAG weavers and talk about how the project is doing today.

DOBAG was established in 1982 with the mission of revitalizing the art of naturally dyed hand-woven rugs, and was the first woman's rug weaving cooperative in the Islamic world. The project was created in response to cheaper but detrimental synthetic dyes, which had been in widespread use for decades. DOBAG was founded by Dr. Harold Boehmer, a chemist teaching in Istanbul, who observed that century old rugs in the museums were far superior to those he encountered in the Turkish marketplace. He concluded that it was not the quality of weaving, but the chemicals used in place of plant-based dyes that made the difference. In the early 1980s, he and his wife scoured the countryside finding Yuruk weavers old enough to still remember what plants their grandparents had used to extract colors. Once they recreated the recipes, they shared their research with the worldwide rug weaving community, thus restoring the integrity of this ancient folk art and transforming modern rug production.

At the DOBAG villages, the Jorgensens were welcomed like family by these gracious people. The Yuruk live in old stone houses, with interiors that clearly reveal the ancestry of their occupants: simple and uncluttered, with a loom in the front room near the wood stove. Each woman creates her rug in her own home while tending to family needs. The women traditionally produced carpets using motifs and symbols of their ancestors, made for their own use, including dowry pieces, home furnishings, and gifts to the local mosque, and some pieces were offered for sale. These colorful carpets have always been treasured by their community, have offered financial security to their family, and have brought honor to proficient weavers. Today these carpets are produced using the finest weaving materials, with wool that is hand-carded, hand-spun and plant dyed. The DOBAG cooperative buys these rugs right from the local weavers. Each rug achieves an excellence in color, construction and overall design to meet the DOBAG quality standard. DOBAG rugs are prized works of art and are in museums worldwide.

We look forward to sharing the wonderful art and culture embodied in these works of “art under foot” with you! Please follow this link to view our entire collection of DOBAG rugs.

Please contact us about DOBAG or other Oriental rugs at 530-265-9229 or at . We are located at 408 Broad Street in Nevada City.