May 2019

The Lost Language

Welcome to The Arts Society Isle of Wight Quay Arts
Thursday, May 16, 2019 - 19:30
Quay Arts Newport
15 Sea Street Newport Harbour PO30 5BD

An exploration of the symbolism of the antique weavings of the nomadic tribes of Persia and Central Asia


The nomadic peoples of Ancient Persia and Central Asia were pre-Islamic and believed in Shamanism. Man is a symbol-making animal and this can be seen in the art of the nomadic peoples. Magical, cosmic and talismanic symbols played a major part in their everyday lives and so it was a natural progression for symbols to be woven into their rugs and weavings. It was a language that only they could read.

No rug in nomadic life was made purely for decoration – all had symbolic meaning and purpose. The weaver was able to weave or ‘write’ into the rugs, her own particular beliefs and interpretations of the events in her life at the time.

Today, these nomadic women no longer weave spontaneously and the language of symbols is lost. The meanings may now be forgotten by the weavers but the magical and spiritual symbols remain – part of the culture which has linked countless nomadic women for thousands of years.

The lecture will illustrate many of the symbols woven into rugs and weavings from the 19th century and earlier, exploring the symbolic representation and significance of this lost language



Mr Brian MacDonald

Brian has been a dealer and consultant in antique oriental rugs and carpets since 1979 after his return from Iran. He is the author of 'Tribal Rugs - Treasures of the Black Tent' which was originally published in October 1997; re-printed in April 2010 and a completely new up-dated edition in the summer of 2016. Brian is one of few western dealers to have lived and worked among tribal groups in remote areas of Iran and Afghanistan during the 1970s and then again, after the Iranian Revolution, in the 1990s. In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society for his work amongst the Persian tribes. He has lectured for The Arts Society since 1986.