31 Aug 2014

Anna's Weft and Warp

From Spectrum, 12:15 pm on 31 August 2014

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.

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.

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.

Jack Perkins discovers Anna Williams' Aladdin's cave of oriental rugs and carpets in central Wellington.