Beyond the Obvious

I love being surprised by people and even objects. For example, I am always fascinated when someone who initially seems rather traditional or conventional begins to reveal extraordinary ideas, or when an object looks totally different from different perspectives.


Take this felt wall hanging with silk embroidery. When I first saw it I thought it was quite beautiful, reminiscent of other early 20th-century Central Asian wall hangings I have seen.


Then when I saw this backing fabric (a printed cotton cloth from Russia), I was really surprised and fascinated. I never would have imagined the front and the back together.


Now look at this  woman's robe. It's probably from Uzbekistan and dates back to the late 19th - early 20th century. And it's shown here inside out!  In Central Asia when this was made, it was customary to create solid-color silk robes and then line them with Russian cotton prints patchworked together. I love how extraordinary this robe is inside and out, and also the idea that the busiest and in some ways most complex part of it is actually kept rather private.


So often we pay the most attention to what is obvious. Personally, I'm often more intrigued by what isn't.

 (All photos from Russian Textiles: Printed Cloths for the Bazaars of Central Asia. For more on this book, see this earlier post.)