I have thought long on this, in fact since November 2016 and I do not in any way claim to have the answers save one: I know if nothing is done, the facts speak for themselves. I have friends in Nepal who envision a guild of sorts which would certify the quality of workmanship and materials. I have other friends in Nepal who would join this guild if it meant they would sell more carpets. I see the possibility of this guild idea growing to include export organizations, and NGOs from the West. I see the Guild bringing together Nepalis, Tibetans, and Westerners with a renewed ‘we can rebuild’ attitude like that which existed in that ‘brief shining moment’ that was the aftermath of the earthquake; earthquake also as allusion to the long decline of Nepali weaving. I call upon any concerned importer or maker of Nepali-Tibetan carpets to if not join me and my colleagues in working toward this concept of Guild, at least acknowledge a new approach must be had. For those who feel as I do, that a more unified voice is required, that more can be done both here in the West but more importantly in Nepal as well, and that the status quo is less than acceptable, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you personally so that we can – collaboratively – truly give back to Nepal.
It is worthy of note that throughout the entirety of The Ruggist you will find no small degree of exaggeration, hyperbole, and irreverence. It’s who I am, it’s how I write, it’s how I see the world. Black, but not just any black. The most perfect black of which you can think. Soot from a freshly cleaned chimney black; matte with no discernible texture, as though you’re staring into a void. Vantablack® – Can this be applied to yarn? I wonder… . That kind of black. And then of course to the far other extreme, a white of no less than equal splendour, pure, but not devoid of all hue. Perhaps the Benjamin Moore named colour: Grand Teton White, if only because it reminds me of my fourteen year old self giggling at the name while basking in the very same majesty that first greeted those French explorers. Each colour – no less special than the other – vying, clamouring to be recognized as the best, the most authentic, the singular whatever it is.
Kyle and Kath – Jan Kath Design New York and Avenues the World School quietly launched the Crossroads and Avenues design project in January 2018. The brainchild of Kyle Clarkson, Managing Partner and designer at the firm, Crossroads and Avenues extends an ongoing multi-year program in which Kyle and Kath hosts schoolchildren educating them on the art, craft, and design of handmade carpets. During these class visits, children learn about the art of handknotted carpets and are given the freedom to imagine and create their own carpet design. ‘The kids have had such fun creating their own designs that I was inspired to take it to the next level and produce a few of their designs at our factory in Nepal.’ says Clarkson of the effort. Originally envisioned as a way to expose handwork to students whose lives are admittedly removed from such work, the project – with the encouragement and support of Avenues: The World School of New York City – quickly developed into a global collaboration bringing together disparate cultures and interpretations of design; all through the as of yet unjaded eyes of children.
Persian and Oriental are two terms whose use in reference to rugs and carpets conjures mental images of familiar designs such as Tabriz, Kashan, Heriz, and Kerman even if the proper names remain unfamiliar or unknown. These designs, just like many others originating in either Iran itself, the geography of the former Persian Empire, and indeed in Central-Asia broadly have also come to be known as so-called Traditional carpets with all three terms used more or less interchangeably, in part due to the region’s former centuries spanning dominance of carpet production and trade. So while there inarguably remain innumerable examples of equally as traditional weaving and design the world over, the aesthetics of Persia have come to monopolize what is known as Traditional, Oriental, or Persian (T.O.P.) design, at least in rugs and carpets from the Western perspective.
As the early 21st century begins to wane many of the innovations which have propelled the art of carpetry to its current zenith have passed from novel to commonplace. The technology which brought forth the rise of photorealism in carpets is now pervasive; its functionality enjoyed by countless carpet makers and designers the world over – regardless of their artistic or aesthetic merits. This is the natural state of progress, yet as any connoisseur knows there can be and is great divide between technical and artistic acclaim. In short, just because one can manipulate an image via computer and make it into a carpet does not mean one should. However, time and time again the firm of Jan Kath has demonstrated an adept ability to find balance between technical achievement and artistic merit; this is the nexus point, the so-called ‘sweet spot’, and in its latest manifestation it presents itself as the enchanting ‘Magic View II’.