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Saturday, March 3, 2012


Antique Rugs of Kurdistan


James D. Burns

 Attorney, Author and Collector,

Seattle, Washington

The Kurdish people have been master weavers for centuries.  However, because they have been a minority culture spread across a wide range of political boundaries, rug scholars have paid little attention to their weavings as a comprehensive whole.  As a result, in most books about rug weaving published over the last 50 years, one can find Kurdish rugs in the chapters on Turkey, Persia, and the Caucuses, but rarely have they been discussed as a cohesive group.  In this lecture, which will be illustrated entirely by rugs from Jim Burns’ collection, Jim will discuss some of the design and structural features that have defined Kurdish weavings across many centuries, regions and styles.  Which color combinations are almost exclusively used by Kurds?  What weaving techniques?  How did this cohesive tradition persist through centuries of migration, political oppression, and cultural intermingling?  Come and learn about this important weaving tradition, which, until recently, has been little studied and poorly understood.

James D. Burns, a Seattle trial lawyer, has degrees in History and Political Science from Whitman College and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Washington.  He has collected oriental rugs and textiles for fifty years. Early on he was attracted to the brilliant coloration and often idiosyncratic design vocabulary of Kurdish weaving, and believes that their work, prior to the 20th century, represents true examples of unadulterated tribal art. He has authored three books on oriental rugs, the most recent, Antique Rugs of Kurdistan – A Historical Legacy of Woven Art, is the most comprehensive work published on Kurdish weaving.  The others include Traditions in Weaving: The Caucasus, and a recent publication, Visions of Nature: The Antique Weavings of Persia,  Jim is a member of the Hajji Baba Club, and was received into the McMullen Society.  He invites TMA/SC members to bring examples of Kurdish rugs for possible identification, and show & tell.


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