The Visiting Exhibition of Museum of Applied Art

Art in Life –Serbian Rugs in 19th - 20th Centuries
(Pirot rugs from the collection of Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade)

Confucius Temple and Imperial College Guozijian, Beijing, PR of China
19 – 31 March 2010
Art In Life - Serbian Rugs in 19th-20th Centuries, the exhibition of Pirot rugs from the collection of Museum Of Applied Art in Belgrade, was open in the Confucius Temple and Imperial College Guozijian during the Days of Serbian Culture in People’s Republic of China. There are 32 rugs from the Museum’s collection on this exhibition with accompanying printed catalogue in Chinese. The closing of the exhibition is on 31st of March.

This project was realized through the cooperation of Serbian and Chinese Ministries of Culture on the basics of Program of cooperation in the field of culture between two countries from 2008 - 2012.

With attendance of high Chinese officials and His Excellency Ambassador of Serbia in PR China, Mr. Miomir Udovicki, the exhibition was opened by Minister of Culture of Serbia, Mr. Nebojsa Bradic, and the keynote address was given by Milica Cukic, Museum Advisor, Head of Arts Departments in Museum Of Applied Art.

As guests of China International Exhibition Agency, three representatives of Museum Of Applied Arts from Belgrade, also visited Beijing from 16th – 22nd March: Head of Arts Departments, Milica Cukic, Curator in the Department for textile and costumes, Draginja Maskareli and Conservator, Milan Andric.

About exhibition Art In Life - Serbian Rugs in 19th-20th Centuries on China National television:


The Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade has a valuable collection of 120 rugs (kilims), dating from the beginning of the 19th to the mid-20th century. They were made in south-east Serbia, in Pirot, the most important rug-making centre in the Balkans.

Pirot was located on the main highway, which once linked central Europe with Constantinople (today Turkey). Besides the Slavic name Pirot in the literature, we also come across the Turkish Sarköy (meaning “neither village nor town”). Excellent examples of Pirot rugs can be seen in Serbia, but likewise in Bulgaria, Turkey and in many collections worldwide.

The Pirot rugs are distinguished by rich and diverse ornaments (geometric, zoomorphic, anthropomorphic), named after the objects and beings from the close surrounding. Fine, thinly-woven, good quality wool, till the 1880s exclusively home-manufactured, goes into making both the warp and the woof of these rugs. Especially evident is the high quality of craftsmanship, superb weaving skills on a vertical loom, using the characteristic technique of plain weave, meaning that both the front and back sides of the rug are the same (as with tapestries). Depending on the size, the rugs were woven by one to ten weavers. The oldest preserved items date back to the end of the 18th century.

One of the outstanding qualities of Pirot rugs is the carefully studied colour effect based on 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.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the Pirot rugs had multiple functions in urban interior decoration and became an inevitable decor of public edifices and events. They were also shown on numerous exhibitions abroad, among which is the Paris exposition in 1900. Motives from the Pirot rugs were very popular in Serbian applied art between two World Wars. Having been integrated into Serbia in 1877/78, Pirot as a border town stagnated and rug-making decreased in importance and artistic value.