This is Fatima El Mennouny sitting on her flatwoven picture rug. She lives in a small village at the foot of Morocco’s Anti-Atlas mountains. She’s one artisan featured in Susan Schaefer Davis’s book, Women Artisans of Morocco. A book that is being loaded on a ship in Hong Kong as I write, bound for safe harbor in the U.S. In anticipation, I’ve been thinking about many of the rugs Susan describes in her book. I’m eager for you to learn more about the colors, the motifs, and the traditions surrounding these renowned rugs. I’m especially eager for you to meet the strong and skilled women who make them.
While we’re excited for the arrival of Susan’s book (available in April), Linda and I are at the same time devoting great energy and attention to the nitty gritty work for our two other books, forthcoming this fall: Mary Anne Wise and Cheryl Conway have written a beautiful account of the journey that lead to creating Multicolores, the rug-hooking cooperative in Guatemala; Lynda Teller Pete and her sister Barbara Teller Ornelas have written detailed and personal profiles of Navajo weavers today, providing important cultural and historical context.
This is Rosmery Pacheco. She is a young rug-hooking artist with Multicolores who I met in Guatemala last summer. This is one of Rosmery’s astounding rugs. It’s impossible for me to look at the beauty in these rugs and not see the artist. Every aspect of the rugs represents the women’s lives—the vibrant and colorful Maya aesthetic; the fine skills necessary to learn this new craft, to innovate and excel beyond even their own initial expectations; the livelihood they now have because of their success in international markets; the confidence opportunity brings. The poet Dick Hugo wrote that “A leap of the imagination is an act of self-acceptance.” I have never known that to be more true than when I look at the work and the lives of the Maya women of Multicolores.
This is Martha Gorman, a Navajo weaver we met last fall. It’s impossible for me to look at a Navajo rug and not see the threads of history reaching beyond time—back to the first weaving, to the time of Spider Woman. To know a Navajo rug is to understand something of Navajo resilience, beauty, and balance. It is also to understand the power and the value of the Navajo land and its colors. To know a Navajo weaver is to see how beauty and time are woven as one.
So you see, I’ve been overwhelmed by rugs these days and the really big story they have to tell. That has been very fine indeed.