Weaving Poems
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Weaving Poems

Exhibition

When women weavers in the Bamiyan region of Afghanistan begin a carpet project, they first make nazzer (offerings). Large pots of halwa, with a special bread called naan e sorkh, are made and distributed to neighbours and guests, and the nearby community. The weavers then pray together for the success of the project. One honoured artisan is invited to tie the first warp on the frame. Finally, a series of poems is remembered, and the women take to the looms.

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Weaving Poems

Image courtesy of Turquoise Mountain

Weaving Poems, an installation by the Afghan-born, Amman-based designer Maryam Omar, evokes this creative atmosphere. Maryam has drawn deeply from the poems associated with weaving practice cherished by the women weavers. Omar pays tribute to these artisan communities and their heritage, passed down from previous generations, and alive and well today. Her carpets are a response to the natural and cultural landscape of Bamiyan, conveying the qualities of its sky, mountains, earth, and plant life.

Weaving Poems

Image courtesy of Turquoise Mountain

Some designs represent the weaving process itself: the frame of the loom, the hanging threads, the shadows of the weavers, bent over their work. A circular fishpond provides a focal point, metaphorically transforming M7’s future theater space into a workshop of the imagination. The installation is completed by passages transcribed from the communal poems, and photography and sound recordings that capture the voices of these extraordinary women.

Weaving Poems is organized by Turquoise Mountain, a leading non-profit charity that supports artisans, reviving traditional craftsmanship, and providing jobs, skills and a renewed sense of pride in places where artisanal heritage is at risk. Founded in 2006 by HM King Charles III, it has been for fifteen years a leading actor in the Afghan craft economy, training thousands of Afghan artisans and enabling over twenty million dollars of craft sales in bringing products to international buyers. Turquoise Mountain is a partner with Qatar Museums, under the guidance of Her Excellency, Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Turquoise Mountain is funded by the Qatar Fund for Development to support weaving communities in Afghanistan, working with over 4,000 female weavers to date. This builds on several years of work in the carpet sector undertaken by Turquoise Mountain, funded by USAID.

I feel Design Doha will bring the wonderful tradition of handmade carpet weaving to light. I hope by experiencing my work, viewers will feel the value the carpet weaving tradition and carpet weavers hold in today's design scene.

Maryam Omar, Weaving Poems Artist

Maryam Omar

Maryam Omar is an Afghan-British designer. She has worked for ten years alongside carpet weaving communities in Afghanistan, honing her skill and knowledge of different weaving techniques. Born and raised in Afghanistan, after graduating from The University of Arts London, she returned to Kabul in 2013. In 2015, she started working for the Turquoise Mountain Trust, and now leads the Design Centre at the Institute for Afghan Arts & Architecture, dividing her time between Amman and Kabul. Maryam draws profound inspiration from the heritage and landscapes of Afghanistan in her process.

Turquoise Mountain Weavers

For this exhibition, Maryam worked with the women weavers of Bamiyan, from their homes and workshops in the central highlands, to design and make together the carpets shown in Weaving Poems.

The Weaving Poems carpets were hand woven in Bamiyan by Nakbakht, Shahra Bano, Sadiqa, Ruqia, Soqra, Razia, Ozra, Fatema, Zahra, Maryam, Masuma, Sharifa, Zahra, Sakina, Nakbakht, Malalay, Rahima, Noor Begum, Sajeda, Zainab, Aziza, Marziya, Zahra and Razia.