Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Another Afghanistan quilt

I wrote earlier about a project that I'm working on now, a postage stamp quilt to mark the US military dead in Afghanistan.  But I am reminded of another quilt I made several years ago that is also about Afghanistan.

In 2015 I had the pleasure of attending and teaching at a big quilting show in Prague, along with my dear friend and art pal Uta Lenk.  Uta had arranged for the show to display a bunch of quilts by International Threads, a group of quilters from four different countries (US, UK, Germany and Israel).  After I said I would come to Prague, she promoted teaching gigs for each of us, which didn't make us rich but did pay for our hotel rooms and a bit of spending money.

Uta in the International Threads exhibit

In between teaching and hanging around our exhibit, we hit the vendors, and discovered a booth selling embroideries made by women in Afghanistan.  We were intrigued by the work, and when we found that many of the embroideries were made by the same woman, Nasrin, we decided to buy eight of them for the members of International Threads, which would be the theme for our next project.












I chose the embroidery with the most abstract and geometric design, and when I made my quilt, I echoed the gray-blue-turquoise-white palette, the bold zigzags and the half-square-triangle sawtooth edging, adding some yellow to pep up the composition.  I called the quilt "Nasrin's Magic Carpet."






















With Afghanistan in the news again, I thought it would be a good time to pull out the quilt again and put it up in public.  It's hanging at PYRO Gallery right now, through the end of this month.  And of course I thought about Nasrin and her friends and family, wondering how they have survived through six more years of war and oppression.

After Uta and I bought the embroideries we sent them to our fellow members and I copied from the package the name of the nonprofit that distributed them: The Guldusi Project of Embroidery.  When I looked it up on the internet this week I learned that the organization was begun in 2002 by a German artist.  They have embroidery projects in several rural Afghan villages, and when I paged through the website I was excited to find exactly the kind of embroideries we had bought.

Uta's Nasrin square












You'll notice that the center portion of each square is a kind of mesh, the kind that's used to make the eye holes in a burka. The website confirmed that this type of stitching is called tsheshmakdusi (tsheshmak = eye, dusi = embroidery) and only a few women in a village in Laghman Province use this stitching in their work for sale.  This had to be the source of our Nasrin squares.

Red pin marks Laghman Province

And yes, when I looked through the thumbnails of work on this page of the website, I found one using the same palette, chevrons and sawtooth border, that was labeled "03Nasrin."  Unless there are many women with the same name doing very similar embroidery for the same nonprofit organization, this is indeed our artist.  At least, that's what I'm going to believe.

Uta has also been remembering her Nasrin quilt recently; check it out on her blog. 

   


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