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 are designed to bring luck and protect from evil. Nearly every home in this eastern Serbian town has one. The carpets are 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. So 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. The makers follow 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. She 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. They use 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 51 times


COMMENTS (33)
  • b.m2001empire
    3/25/2015 - 01:06 p.m.

    The town near the boundary with Bulgaria, used to lie on an important East-West trading route. For sure they existed in the 18th and 19th century. But some experts believe they go back to the 16th century.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    3/25/2015 - 09:17 p.m.

    I think that it is cool for a town to have a magic carpet which really doesn't have magic in it but it may sound crazy to people to believe that there are magic in the Pirot carpet but there aren't any magic today so it is false for people in Serbian town to think that there are magic in the Pirot carpet. Well if people in the Serbian town think that the carpet is being gone, I think that it is going to be hard to make another one.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    3/25/2015 - 09:17 p.m.

    I think they should keep it alive because that is a part of Serbian culture. Just because it is in the modern times, does not mean that they have to stop what they love to do. Just like some descendants of some Mesoamerican civilization, they still practice their cultures. I read this in a history textbook during an activity on Thursday. It had a picture showing a descendant of a Mayan priest practicing what his ancestors did in the past. Thus, the Serbian women should not give up their culture as there are many countries who still practice their old customs.
    Critical thinking challenge: How might the towns location have supported the growth of the Pirot carpet industry in earlier times?
    Answer: The town used to be on an important East-West trading route so many people in the past bought/traded for the carpets that were made.

  • John0724-YYCA
    3/25/2015 - 09:39 p.m.

    Well I really don't know why they believe in this weird magic carpet because if they really think the magic carpet brings luck and protect from evil because then they should like present the carpet and they wove it with there hands then they should be magical. Then they should already know that they have magic then so that is really stupid to even make magic carpets.

  • AlexEM-Kut
    3/25/2015 - 10:12 p.m.

    This is not the only things that are disappearing. This shows how much they truly value there culture. Hopefully this will never go away and people will appreciate these beautiful carpets.

  • DT00x3
    3/26/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    The towns location might have supported the growth of the Pirot carpet industry in earlier times because maybe it was a fairly new and intresting thing back than so in that location many people were more interested in it but over time the same thing can be bothering.

  • AmyG-Mau
    3/26/2015 - 11:19 a.m.

    critical thinking: Because it might be a place and people might not be into that and then there would not be as many people doing that so there will not be as much done but if there were more a lot would get done :)

  • tylieg-And
    3/26/2015 - 03:28 p.m.

    This was a really interesting story to read. I think that it is really cool that these women are fighting to keep what they value alive. I really like this article.

  • allyc522
    3/26/2015 - 08:47 p.m.

    This article reminds me of Alladin. It reminds me of the time he flew a magic carpet. Anyways I thought this article was cool. It is cool to know that people consider these carpets as "magic". It is also cool that they are taking their time to make more of the carpets. They must really care about these carpets. This article is really neat.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    3/26/2015 - 08:55 p.m.

    I think the carpets are beautiful. I would love to have on if it was indeed magical. If it wasn't, it could just serve as decoration bc they are really pretty.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT