Spectrum

Sunday 31 August 2014, with David Steemson, Jack Perkins & Lisa Thompson

Sunday, 31 August 2014
Anna's Weft and Warp

  • Spectrum for 31 August 2014 ( 25′ 6″ )

    Jack Perkins discovers an Aladdin's cave of oriental rugs and carpets in the central Wellington workshop of Anna Williams. Anna has been repairing these exotic floor coverings and wall hangings for over 20 years. She's worked in Turkish back streets and lived with nomads in southern Iran, all in pursuit of improving her repair skills.

Anna Williams’ fingers are strong and tough. She spends long hours each day wrestling a needle through the heavy weft and warp of oriental rugs. Pliers sometimes replace fingers. Anna is repairing these exotic floor coverings and wall hangings, as she has for over 20 years.

Rugs
Anna repairing an old Qashquai tribal rug from southern Iran. 

A Wellington rug shop employed Anna in 1992 and sent her to work in the back streets of Istanbul, the Turkish capital, to gain experience in rug repairs. A few years later Anna plucked up the courage to travel to southern Iran where she lived with Qashquai nomads who make beautiful and highly sought after rugs and carpets.  She also brought wool and silks back to New Zealand for her repair work.

Rugs
Anna Williams taking a brief break from rug repairing.

The Qashquai nomads wove their carpets using wool and hair from their sheep and goats. Anna has revisited southern Iran 5 times and has noticed that hand weaving amongst the Qashquai nomads is becoming a lost art, the old manual skills replaced by machines.

Rug pan
'The Rug Merchants' woven wall hanging from French painting. (Right) Qashquai tribal rug with luxurious pile.

During one of her Iran visits, Anna took time out to visit Russia's St Petersburg Hermitage Museum, home to the world’s oldest pile carpet, the Pazryk carpet, woven in 450 BC and discovered in a grave preserved by permafrost.

RugsExpensive silk rug just arrived for repair.