Many of the so-called Shahsavan mafrashes are Armenian

If you are an antique rug enthusiast you should know about the BIGGEST misattribution in weaving: Many of the so-called Shahsavan mafrashes are ARMENIAN.

A mafrash is a bedding bag, a “box”, from Caucasus, Persia, and Eastern Turkey, most often woven in soumak or kilim technique.

The fact that mafrashes were used for the nomads’ frequent movements led observers to conclude that they were woven and used only by nomads.

This ignored the following: (i) Frequent movements were typical not only of nomadic tribes but also of the settled Armenians, as Armenians engaged not only in agriculture but in cattle breeding as well. This necessitated moving the cattle from winter to summer pastures just as the nomadic tribes did.

In the book, “Flat-woven Rugs and Textiles from the Caucasus” by Robert H. Nooter—he went into the villages of the Caucasus and discovered who REALLY wove these mafrashes. The Armenians.

They also served as “ojitnots” (from the word ojit, meaning “dowry”) to hold the things that were assembled before marriage.

Parents would use the mafrashes to put the things that were necessary for their daughters to live in a new house. This included woven objects such as clothing, sheets, dresses, stockings and saddlebags, jewelry, and household objects.

And finally, if mafrashes were brought to Anatolia by Turkish-speaking tribes, why is it in Central Asia, the homeland of many nomadic, mafrashes were almost never woven?

by Arto Tavukciyan

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