Wandering in the Met, NYC


“Portable Storage: Tribal Weavings from the Collection of William and Inger Ginsberg”


SEPTEMBER 25, 2017–MAY 7, 2018


Wandering around the Metropolitan Museums of Arts au Metropolitan Museum of Arts in no hurry or goal, just for the sake of an unexpected discover of works of art, ranging from Etruscan vases, little girls from the XVIIIth century with moody faces, wooden pirogues and delicate dark etchings so many other things.

On this cold day of May, I have plenty of time to get lost. So, my feet are taking me to the Iranian and Middle East Section. In a small shaded room hidden at the very end of the section, a temporary exhibition called “Portable Storage: Tribal Weavings from the Collection of William and Inger Ginsberg” is taking place.

The room is so small, you don’t need to take more than a dozen steps to go around it, but this lack of space is balanced by its didacticism and the quality of the pieces displayed.

here are the three main highlights :

  1. A clear and well grounded set of explanations on the documented tribes.
  2. Clearly visible pieces shown on both side.
  3. Everyday use explained in the light of the historical and cultural background.

Beside the presentation of each tribe (origin, geographical area and weaving practice), the textiles were described carefully, including the type of threads, their use, and their making process.

The topic:

While the term “carpet” evokes a heavy, large rectangular textile (either knotted pile of flat-woven tapestry, called kilim) that covers a floor, a vast array of carpet genres and techniques can be found in the Islamic world, where they serve various functions in nomadic encampments, villages, cities , and palaces. Portable storage  presents a selection of small tribal weavings from iran, Turkey and transcaucasia, given to the Met by William and Inger Ginsberg.

With one exception-a small saddle cover- these pieces were woven by nomadic tribes as containers for everyday items. Some were designed specifically to transport or store bedding, flour, salt and wooden spindles used to make the woolen yarns from which these works were woven. Most notable is the ubiquitous double saddlebag. The equivalent of backpacks, briefcase, and purses, double saddlebags were woven in various size across the Middle East, from Anatolia to Central Asia, and used to hold anything from jewelry to clothing.

Women weavers spun the wool, dyed the yarn, and created these textiles, often on small portable looms. The works on display demonstrate the mastery of the weavers and reflect centuries-old artistic traditions. They are at once embodiments of tribal identity and breathtaking examples of artistic expression.

->Copy/paste of the main explication sign at the entry of the exhibition. (https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2017/portable-storage/the-tribes)

And nowadays?

Nowadays, these pieces of textiles are highly appreciated by collectors for their colors, geometry and warm shades. Often quite expensive because their production ended a while ago, it might seem difficult to find them.

Here are two recommended addresses :




Small online shop based in Turkey, where you can find good examples of carpets, kilim and other Turkish, Iranian and Caucasian textiles.

Kares Le Roy et l’Amu Darya Bazar



Temporary bazar where the best pieces owned by the photographer Kares Le Roy are displayed, all of them have been brought back from Iran and Central Asia by himself. keep an eye open on its next pop up, it’s definitely worth it!


See you soon,

My Craft Curator


Written by: Margot

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