Wiliam Morris was a passionate advocate of Persian textiles and instrumental in convincing the Victoria & Albert Museum to purchase the world famous Ardabil carpet.
Measuring 38′ long by 18′ wide, it is an extremely fine specimen bearing the following inscription by the weaver:
“I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold.
There is no protection for my head other than this door.
The work of the servant of the threshold Maqsud of Kashan in the year 946.”
So it is apt that Arts & Crafts Hammersmith has partnered with our friends and neighbours at the Iranian Association, a local charity which helps refugees, in putting together the latest exhibition on Persian carpets at The William Morris Society museum.
“The Story of The Persian Carpet” is a Heritage Lottery funded research project on the cultural heritage of the Persian carpet in Britain, researched by the Iranian Association.
Morris drew inspiration from textiles and carpets from the Middle East which heavily influenced his designs. He claimed, ‘’To us pattern-designers, Persia has become a holy land, for there in the process of time our art was perfected’’.
Persians were among the pioneering carpet weavers of the ancient world and the exhibition describes the development of the craft of carpet making and how it has influenced design all over the world.
Among prominent figures who owned them was the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud who had a collection of rugs in his consulting room, including one covering his famous psychoanalytic couch. It is decorated with traditional patterns; bold geometric shapes filled with stylised plants, deer and peacocks and was woven by one of the tribes of the Qashqa’i Confederacy whose territories range through the west of Iran.
Persian carpets now decorate homes of many Iranians living in Britain and are an important link with the community’s culture and heritage. At the opening of the exhibition, local Iranian people gathered at Kelmscott House to eat Persian delicacies, sing songs and dance in the Coach House! It was a heartfelt tribute to their homeland and we too felt transported to a distant country.
Kaveh Kalantari, manager of the Iranian Association, said:
“In the light of growing anxiety about the arrival of immigrants and refugees in the UK, Morris, an internationalist, is a source of inspiration for us because he did not look down on people from other parts of the world, he acknowledged their contribution to human civilization.“
“The Story of The Persian Carpet” exhibition is free and open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays 2pm-5pm until January 2018.
The William Morris Society, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TA
Iranian Association 222 King Street London W6 0RA. www.facebook.com/iranianassociation