Serbian women want to save magic carpets A woman prepares the wool on the loom in the eastern Serbian town of Pirot (AP photos)
Serbian women want to save magic carpets
Lexile

A Pirot carpet has magical powers, they say, its colorful patterns and symbols designed to bring luck and protect from evil. Nearly every home in this eastern Serbian town has one big or small, rolled out on the floor, wrapped around the furniture or hung on the wall.

Yet Pirot's centuries-old craft of carpet weaving is in danger of dying out and a group of women has been fighting to keep it alive.

Pirot carpet-weaving is "in the biggest crisis in its history ... a rare craft on the verge of extinction," the Lady's Heart group says.

Famous for their beauty and part of Serbia's rich heritage, Pirot carpets are made by women, and from locally bred wool, according to special rules laid down for hundreds of years.

"It is a very slow process. It takes a long time to weave a Pirot carpet," said Slavica Ciric, who launched the Lady's Heart business several years ago with the help of the authorities and donors including USAID.

Sitting on low wooden benches, the women work gently, using nothing but their fingers to weave through wool stretched on vertical looms. Because the carpets are hand-made with complex geometrical designs, one weaver produces less than a square meter per month, Ciric explained.

Marina Cvetkovic, from Belgrade's Ethnographic Museum, said Pirot carpets are known for their rich colors and composition. There are nearly 100 known Pirot motifs and shapes. Original Pirot carpets are extremely dense, thin and have the same design on both sides. The town, near the boundary with Bulgaria, used to lie on an important East-West trading route.

"We know for sure they existed in the 18th and 19th century, but some experts believe they go back to the 16th (century)," she said.

Weavers have dropped from 5,000 women a century ago to only about 10 professionals and several older women today, Ciric said.

Still, she said, they love what they do.

"For most people, those are just colorful carpets, but we see more," she said. "We see a story unfolding through symbols and colors."

Critical thinking challenge: How might the towns location have supported the growth of the Pirot carpet industry in earlier times?

Assigned 10 times


COMMENTS (11)
  • Js2001ege
    3/25/2015 - 08:47 a.m.

    Marina Cvetkovic, from Belgrade's Ethnographic Museum, said Pirot carpets are known for their rich colors and composition. There are nearly 100 known Pirot motifs and shapes. Original Pirot carpets are extremely dense, thin and have the same design on both sides. The town, near the boundary with Bulgaria, used to lie on an important East-West trading route.

  • vancer-Che
    3/26/2015 - 01:49 p.m.

    I say save them, its a tradition in Serbia, so I think they should be able to do the things their ancestors did and passed down their children and so on and so forth

  • stephanieg-Che
    3/26/2015 - 01:58 p.m.

    I couldn't be able to sit in a wooden chair and make a carpet. They are beautiful don't get me wrong but its pointless no one really like them.

  • mhalinski8@ims.com
    3/26/2015 - 03:56 p.m.

    I think that what these women are doing takes a lot of love, determination, and patience. It would be a real shame if this craft, is shoved aside for the more conventional modern methods.

  • KiraWvA-4
    3/26/2015 - 09:28 p.m.

    Ten professionals and elder women have been trying to keep the art of Pirot carpet weaving alive. Almost all the homes in eastern Serbian have one, because they are believed to ward off evil and bring good luck. The colorful patterns and designs are gently handwoven using local wool and hand power, which means each woman working can only produce about a square meter every month. I think these women are working to save a lovely art and I hope the Pirot carpet weaving secrets are not lost.

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    3/26/2015 - 10:16 p.m.

    When I read the first paragraph, I immediately thought of Aladdin. My favorite scene is, of course, the one where Aladdin decides that he loves the girl. A carpet with magical powers would be so cool to ride on. However, I would be so scared of falling off. This is a cool job, and I hope it sticks around.

  • madisonn-war
    3/27/2015 - 01:44 p.m.

    If this makes the women happy to save a magic carpet let them. I think its cool that they still believe in the carpet. I think some of the patterns are very detailed and pretty.

  • Mr_Abbyh
    3/27/2015 - 02:46 p.m.

    I think that most people quit being a weaver because people made fun of them and their culture so they stopped doing what they loved and moved on. So if they love doing it no matter what others say. I think its cool how they believe that the carpets have magic and that they wart off evil.

  • SydneyL-Kut
    3/29/2015 - 02:59 p.m.

    I think that these people should keep making the carpets because they're part of their culture. If they stop making them, they could lose part of their family history. Also, other people should try to help them with the process of making the carpets. That way they can be made faster, and people can see why they are important.

  • MadisonSch
    3/30/2015 - 01:37 p.m.

    I think that most people quit being a weaver because people made fun of them and their culture so they stopped doing what they loved and moved on.

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