Imagine yourself in the past. Perhaps somewhere in the fertile crescent immediately adjoining the Anatolian peninsula, the exact location of no particular concern. You’ve recently inherited a palatial but dated family home filled with exquisite mosaics. Your wife (because this is the past and men own property and have wives) complains that the mosaics, especially the likeness of a young woman, are simply no longer en vogue and must be redone. Removing the mosaics is cost prohibitive considering you must pay taxes for yet another war, so you enlist the help of a local immigrant artist skilled in the art of what was then called Roman fresco. He suggests a stunning cloud scene to cover the mosaic. ‘It will liven the space and bring the feeling of outdoors in.’ he reassures before you reluctantly agree. Months later, several budget extensions, and countless messages sent by horseback later the work is finally complete. All is well and the beauty that was is all but forgotten as the beauty that is remains hot, hot, hot with the trends of whenever that was.
Years later, your health and wealth faltering you wonder over to the eastern wing of the house, a place you’ve not been in years. The roof has given way in places, birds have taken to nesting in the rafters, and water has ruined the delicate frescoes you were assured had a ‘lifetime guarantee’. As you turn the corner your eyes meet hers. The young woman from so many years ago. Your father had commissioned the finest mosaic workers from miles around to depict this ‘gypsy girl’ as your mother condescendingly referred to her as, and here she was once again. Those riveting eyes looking back at yours from behind the decrepit and crumbling walls, her mouth still hidden, in no way betraying whether she was smiling or scorning. You stare because you cannot not stare. The image is simply too thought provoking.
‘Gypsy Girl’ Carpet from Wool and Silk (shown in black and white for illustrative purposes)
So are the thoughts that come to mind as I try to describe the latest carpet from the mind of Erbil Tezcan at Wool and Silk. Entitled ‘Gypsy Girl’ the carpet depicts, exactly as I described, a beautiful young women rendered in mosaic who is looking back at you with piercing eyes from behind what appears to be a frescoed and partially decayed wall. So much can be said of this carpet merely because of the questions it asks the viewer, but let us first begin with an attempt to convey the beauty of its colour.
The field of the carpet is such that is was designed to mimic the visual of a frescoed wall depicting a partially cloudy sky. Delicate wisps of cloud white and a pale blue that perhaps tinges toward lavender are set upon a classic cerulean sky, through which – as if the fresco had indeed crumbled partially away – peers this young ‘gypsy girl’ in resplendent earth hued wool. Woven to depict – with stunning accuracy one might add – the ‘Gypsy Girl’ mosaic that was unearthed in Zeugma, Commagene in modern day Turkey which is now on display at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, in Gaziantep, Turkey, the carpet excels in adapting a known work of art into another medium. Faint yellow, rose, and peach coloured wool define the fair skin, her hair and eyes defined by russet, lavender, blueberry, and rich mauve. The hair further back on her head appears to be covered in some way, which is shown in muted olive greens and a medium charcoal intermixed with the balance of the colours from the palette. Photorealism excels in this instance as both the fresco field and the mosaic design faithfully reflect the reality that is without becoming overtly contrived. The harsh definition between individual mosaic tiles – woven in what appears to be a rich charcoal, contrasts expertly against the softness of the sky combining two distinctly different images into one visually stunning carpet.
Image of the original ‘Gypsy Girl’ Mosaic
The success of this carpet is not however based solely on it’s design, the deft combination of visual textures, it’s colouration, quality, or any other one single element, save for those piercing eyes. Much the same way as the famed Mona Lisa does not betray her thoughts, so too does ‘Gypsy Girl’ leave you wandering. In fact – as some have noted – they are also reminiscent of the well known National Geographic photograph taken by Steve McCurry. Certainly our fascination with eyes as the window to the soul plays a huge part in our attraction to this carpet. What secrets do they reveal and what secrets do they mask?
‘Afghan Girl’ by Steve McCurry for National Geographic
It’s obvious to anyone who sees this carpet as to why Mr. Tezcan was so inspired. The real question we should ask is: ‘What thoughts took him from inspiration to design to finished carpet?’