Pirot Carpet

 The age of Pirot as a settlement is measured by centuries. The ancient city on the Nisava, on the important road Europe – the Middle East, was constantly the target of well-meaning and other caravans, even conquerors, always burned and plundered, destroyed. In addition to other sights from this city, the Pirot carpet is on the list of world cultural heritage. 

Carpet weaving as a cultural heritage came from the East, although there are opinions that carpet weaving in Pirot was developed even before the arrival of the Turks. Some authors claim that it is autochthonous, that it originated in the Middle Ages and that it was later, under Byzantine and even later under Turkish influence, perfected.

The Pirot carpet maker is an artist without pretensions to such a status. She will say for herself that she is a carpet weaver, a worker and a martyr, and the artistic thing in her work is her life secret. She decorates herself, beautifies, creates a pattern and a relationship of colors, creates a composition in her head and transfers it to the threads, miraculously and out of nothing.

The archetypal layers of geometric symbols reflect the original harmony in which the contradictions of human nature coexist – good and evil, male and female, “yin” and “yang”, consciously and unconsciously. Lately, there have been opinions about the beneficial effect of such symbolism on the human spirit. These opinions are based on the understanding that archetypal images exist in each individual as inherited possibilities of human symbolic representation and experience of the deepest truths about life.

There are different opinions about the origin of the pattern on the Pirot carpet. Some authors believe that they are autochthonous, but the possibility is not ruled out (although rarely) that a pattern is borrowed from Asian carpets “because there are Serbian, Greek and Turkish elements in the names of patterns on the Pirot carpet. However, the patterns on the Pirot carpet are of Serbian origin, which is confirmed by their names (mirror, lizard, tulips, turtles, doves) and Turkish (duls. cendjels, mirab, Smyrna pattern and, later, other environments (German boxes, French candy, Russian bombs, Russian monument).

Some patterns are traces of the mythological past, and later also the influence from the East. That is why their names are Turkish (bardak, cookbook, reshme), Greek (octopus, chandeliers) and Serbian (coke, flames, owl). It is believed that ornamentation also went through various stages of development and that it preserved elements of all epochs. The hook ornament is associated with the Aryan cult of the sun; the wheel is reminiscent of the oldest mythological forms; all eastern peoples have a tree of life. From the pre-Turkish period, the names are mirror, wreath, cookbook. The Turks bring the names Persian crown, Smyrna pattern, etc.

The most common ornament on these carpets are (next to the bone) cookbook. which also points to the Caucasian influence, and the „mirab“ on the prayer rugs. However, regardless of the obvious Caucasian influence, the women of Pirot weaved a lot of their skills and inspiration into these ornaments, added and subtracted, and combined colors and shapes in their own way. On one and the same surface, for example, one and the same pattern is repeated according to the logic and arrangement that the carpet has imagined, and the color is always different. Namely, the same pattern is repeated, but always in a different color.