Woven bags carried by nomads in the Middle East were designed to contain all of the necessities of life, from bedding to salt. This exhibition highlights 19 distinctly patterned examples of woven bags from nomadic cultures in Iran, Turkey, and the Caucasus, along with one striking pile-woven saddle cover. Featuring geometric patterns as well as stylized floral and animal motifs, these textiles are both utilitarian and expressive of a highly sophisticated tribal aesthetic. The 2015 gift of these brightly colored works greatly expands the Museum's holdings of tribal weavings from the region and lends insight into a way of life practiced in the Middle East for hundreds of years. The exhibition also includes an Islamic painting from the Museum's collection that illustrates bags and trappings in use in traditional society.
The exhibition is made possible by The Hagop Kevorkian Fund.
Double saddle bag (Khorjin) (detail), ca. 1900. Northwestern Iran or Azerbaijan, Shahsevan tribe. Wool (warp and sumak weft) and cotton (ground weft); sumak extra weft wrapping (front) and weft-faced plain weave with pattern in brocaded weft (back), 52 x 20 in. (132.1 x 50.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Inger G. and William B. Ginsberg, 2015 (2015.490.43). Photo by Walter B. Denny