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Weaving the Threads of Livelihood: the aesthetic and embodied knowledge of Berber weavers

THIS EVENT IS ARCHIVED
Berber Weaver Behind Loom

Date: 14 October 2011Time: 10:30 AM

Finishes: 17 December 2011Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei GalleryRoom: Brunei Gallery Exhibition Rooms

Type of Event: Exhibition

The Sirwa is situated at the junction of the High Atlas and the Anti Atlas mountain ranges in Morocco. The Berber weavers of the Sirwa are renowned for their wide range of textiles and their technical knowledge and artistry. In addition to embroidery and sprang (an ancient precursor of knitting), female Sirwa weavers master several weaving techniques: tapestry weaving, twinning, brocading and knotting, which they use individually or in combination. Since the 1980s weaving production has intensified, this activity occupying most of the households in the region and constituting a major livelihood option complementing subsistence agriculture.

The central piece of the exhibition will be a special 19th century cloak, the akhnif, (loaned by the British Museum) a garment unique to Morocco that has inspired the production of a new type of carpet in the 1990s, and variants since. In the exhibition, many of these richly coloured, densely embellished and painstakingly crafted carpets will be displayed. They demonstrate the dynamism and creativity of Sirwa weavers who exploit and continuously update their rich weaving tradition to produce a great variety of weavings for the international market. This will be the first exhibition dedicated to contemporary textiles production in Morocco.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to watch as the Sirwa weavers demonstrate their technical skills on equipment especially brought from Morocco and can even try their own hand at weaving. They will be given the opportunity to touch many items displayed in the exhibition, to handle tools (spindles, cards and beating combs) and textures (yarns and weaving samples) and to experience the carpets.

A one-day international conference on Moroccan textiles will take place in conjunction with the exhibition. The conference will explore Moroccan textiles in their historical and social context; contemporary Moroccan textile designers and artists will present their work and creations.

Contact email: gallery@soas.ac.uk