ASYUTE

PREFACE

Unlike the weavings featured in the previous four exhibitions, this show presents a Near Eastern textile tradition about which nothing has been published and little is known. The exhibition is a first as these textiles have not been displayed or examined by any other institution or gallery. The short descriptive text offered here also provides the first brief examination of them. No other exists and supposedly the few scant published mentions have repeated hearsay and fantasy, like they can be made of silver or they were made during the Art-Deco period.

These misconceptions have created a situation where more mis-information than factual surrounds these unusual wraps or shawls. Even the technique used to make them and exactly what metal was used for the foil strip has not been correctly described. Their unusual technique, a thin narrow metallic foil strip threaded and bent through a previously woven netted linen ground cloth, is unique to these textiles. Rumor has it this foil can be silver but after examining hundreds of examples not one has proven to contain any precious metal. They all have just an ordinary white-metal made into a thin narrow foil and washed or lightly plated with silver.

Displaying these fascinating textiles for a new wider audience and adding to their appreciation are important but perhaps the most significant component of this presentation is the first definitive analysis of the technique accompanied by actual photographs showing the step-by-step process. This took place in a small town south of Asyuit with co-operation from one of the last of the weavers able to remember seeing examples similar to those included in this exhibition being made by her mother and grand-mother's generations. She kindly demonstrated the steps necessary to make each stitch and at the conclusion, presented her no longer used squat, double-eyed white-metal needles to the photographer and told him she was eighty-four years old.