Serbian, Pirot, 1886

Darinka Petković

Warp and weft – wool; kilim weave

190 x 137 cm

MAA inv. no. 17338

Apart from the collection of Oriental carpets and rugs, the Museum of Applied Art also has a valuable collection of rugs from Pirot, around 120 in all. These preserved specimens date from the late 18th to the mid-20th century. They originated in south-east Serbia, in Pirot, the most important rug-making centre in the Balkans.

Located on the main highway, which once linked central Europe with Constantinople, Pirot had a multi-ethnic population. Besides the Slavic name Pirot in the literature, we also come across the Turkish "Sarköy" (meaning neither village nor town")". These lovely examples of Pirot rugs can be seen in our country, but likewise in Bulgaria, Turkey and in many collections worldwide. They are frequently referred to in foreign literature as Thracian, Bulgarian or Sarkoy rugs.

Fine, thinly-woven, good quality wool goes into making both the warp and the weft of these rugs. What is especially evident is the high quality of craftsmanship, superb weaving skills on a vertical loom, using the characteristic technique of kilim weave, which means that both the front and back sides of the material are the same.

One of the chief qualities of Pirot rugs is their carefully studied colour effects achieved through the choice and arrangement of colours. It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that plant dyes were replaced by aniline colourings. By choosing and designing a wide variety of patterns, as well as colours, even on similar rugs, the originality of every single rug is assured.

The rug with "wreaths of the nine domes" pattern is certainly an outstanding example in the collection, with its dedication to the end user by the weaver herself. There is a visible dedication woven in printed Cyrillic lettering, reading: "ЗА УСПОМЕН СНАЈИДАНИЦИ 18 МАЈА 86.г. Д.П." (A SOUVENIR FOR MY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW DANICA 18 MAY '86. D. P.). The initials D. P. belong to the weaver Darinka Petković (1868-1932), sister of merchant Kosta Petković from Pirot, who commissioned this rug as a gift for his daughter-in-law Danica.