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"Collecting the Uncollectible: Kurdish Flatweaves of Afreen, Syria"

Yaser Al Saghrji

Owner, Yana Kilims,
Damascus, Syria

The Kurds from the region of Afreen in northwestern Syria have had a longtime tradition of weaving colorful flat-woven kilims.  These kilims were woven in colored panels with whimsical cicim-type decorations, and assembled into multi-panel rugs.  Using a slideshow of relevant pictures taken from the region, Yaser Al Saghrji’s talk will introduce the weavers of Afreen with a brief history of the people, and how their environment has impacted the weavings they produced through the materials, tools, dyes, techniques, and symbols that they employed.  He will describe a traditional Kurdish home and how it dictated the functionality of the rugs, and his talk will include a review of the various types of kilims and carpets.  Each type of Afreen weaving will be displayed and discussed, ending with the factors that caused the weavings from Afreen to come to a halt by the early 1950s.

Yaser Al Saghrji was born and raised in Damascus, Syria, and has a degree in English literature from Damascus University.  Since he was a young teenager, when he specialized in flatweaves in his uncle’s oriental carpet store in the huge and ancient Al-Hamidiyya Souq, Yaser has been a carpet store salesman, manager, buyer and rug business owner, traveling all over the Middle East to find antique carpets and tribal rugs and textiles for customers.  Since 1996 he has been the owner of Yana Kilims in Damascus, specializing in tribal flatweaves of the rug-producing countries. In 2003 Yaser co-founded the Alwan Afreen to study the feasibility of establishing a weaving revival project, and to collect and research weavings from Afreen for the purpose of publishing a book.  He hosted an exhibition of his personal collection of weavings from Afreen in the Khan As’ad Basha caravansarai in 2006, and published an article in the May/June 2006 issue HALI Magazine on the weavings of Afreen.




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