All images: (c) Werner Weber via HVM.
The Historical and Ethnological Museum (HVM) in Switzerland, which has now reopened, is hosting an exhibition of Mazandaran Kilims: Unknown Flat Fabrics From Northern Persia until January 2021. The flat fabrics from the remote province of Mazandaran in today's Iran, between the Caspian Sea and the Elburs Mountains, are known for their variety of stripes and abstract combinations of light and shadow. These mostly large kilims, woven in lengths, were created around 1900 and all seem to be unused. The residents of the area can no longer make any statements about their function or the fine technology with shimmering transitions. The rare pieces are from Werner Weber’s private collection, many of which are documented in Parviz Tanavoli’s 2011 book, Undiscovered Minimalism.
From Weber’s website: “Werner Weber first visited Mazandaran in northern Iran in the mid-1990s. At the time, conventional wisdom was that one could find antique gelims and carpets all over Iran, except for Mazandaran. But in remote villages in the Hezar Jerib Area, amid the imposing scenery of the Elburz Mountains, he and his Iranian colleagues saw powerfully expressive heirloom kilims with “minimalist” abstract designs unlike any others known in the trade, but which, in their colours and patterns evoke the modern painting, architecture and even the music of the west. In 2009 in an attempt to discover more about these enigmatic weavings, Werner Weber travelled to Hezar Jerib with the notable contemporary sculptor and painter Parviz Tanavoli, and also with a local art historian and other experts from Teheran. Their questions, for the most part, remained tantalizingly unanswered, but this book serves as homage to the women who created these works of art.”
The refined and complex technique, the fine material and their unused condition lead Weber and Tanavoli to suggest that they might have been made for spiritual purpose. Whether a bridal gift, a ritual object, or intended for another purpose, the weavers of Mazandaran undoubtedly created masterful textile art.
For more information visit www.hvmsg.ch