In June 2011, Sharon and Fred traveled to Stockholm, Sweden to attend the twelfth International Conference on Oriental Carpets (ICOC). This was was the third ICOC that we have attended, having enjoyed our experience in Istanbul and Washington DC.
The ICOC, although it always contains a “Dealers’ Fair” where you can purchase outstanding (and high-priced) antique carpets, is primarily an academic conference at which scholars from all over the world present their latest research into various topics relating to hand-knotted carpets and flat-weave rugs from around the world.
Each ICOC venue provides a large helping of presentations on local regional textiles , as well as visits for conference participants to local museums and other locations where antique textiles can be viewed.
Some of the ICOC lectures given at the Stockholm Convention Center outside of town
were quite esoteric and had titles such as “Notes on Ornamental Decore Genesis and Semantics of Samarkand Suzani Embroidery” and “Some Comparisons of Techniques of Dovetail Tapestry and Interlocked Tapestry in Scania Textiles.” Despite the daunting titles, most of the lectures were quite interesting and illustrated to us a number of textiles we previously knew little about.
While it would seem to make sense to hold such a Conference in Turkey, well known for carpets, having the ICOC in Stockholm seemed little less a natural choice…until we got there.
Both in lectures, as well as museums and galleries, we were able to view an amazing array of Scandinavian textiles. Remembering that rugs come from wool and wool comes from sheep…and there are a lot of sheep in Scandinavia…we saw old weavings, to include both knotted rugs and flatweave “kilims”. They were of stunning beauty (and price, when you could find one to purchase).
These were not the Riya rugs you can buy at IKEA, but very finely-woven folk art of the 19th century made with as much skill and artistry as any rug woven in Turkey or Iran.
Although we departed without buying anything for our own collection or for sale in our shop, we will always have fond memories of beautiful folk weavings from Scandinavia. The next ICOC will be in two years in Budapest. We’ll be there!