Decorative art or art practice? The conservation of textiles in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Deisser, Anne-Marie; Sipan, Lolan;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 57, Number S1, p.80-86 (2012)


The decorative arts have had an important socio-cultural impact on the lives of generations, driving exploration, industry, and trade. Following the Second World War, the decorative arts of many cultures became disjointed; separated from the environments which were their original inspiration. This disruption was caused by rapid socio-economic changes and a myriad of external influences, many related to globalization and environmental issues. Until quite recently, the decorative arts of the nomadic Kurds of Iraq have been shaped mainly by their immediate natural environment. The materials available to them have shaped their designs and thus the objects they make have been influenced directly or indirectly by their lifestyle. The uniqueness of Kurdish decorative arts is that their creation and production have been a continuous process for centuries and are still an integral part of their traditions and resources. Regional conflicts and forced migrations have had an ever increasing influence on the development and in the direction taken by the designs, materials, and the end functions of their decorative arts. Since 2004, the Kurdish Textile Museum has documented, conserved, and displayed a collection of 2000 textiles that represent the decorative arts of the Kurdish nomadic tribes, and it also encourages continuity of practice.