Silk Road through Tibet
“Something I’ve always loved about this business is honoring different cultures,” said Rohr. “It began with Turkey and the cultural stories and backgrounds of the rugs. The superstitions really intrigue me.”
The artifacts and jewelry
Rohr has never traveled to Tibet, but feels an affinity with Tibetans she’s met. This summer she found Palden at the Minturn Market, selling Tibetan objects. Palden grew up in a Tibetan refugee camp with her mother and brother. Now, the trio travels between Tibet and the United States, bringing a bit of their cultural heritage to the States.
They collect turquoise and coral from Tibet and assemble it into jewelry.
“There’s an elegant roughness to it,” explained Rohr. “Maybe they’ll find a small box encrusted with coral, or a small engraving, and make pendants out of them.”
They often work with fine wire, coiling it into shapes. Prayer wheels will be found at the show, too. Traditionally, a teacher gives his student a prayer and a mantra to be written down and placed inside the wheel. They twirl it around, sending the prayer – often much like a blessing – into the air, to float away on the winds. There will also be prayer beads made from yak bones and coral. Most of the artifacts and jewelry will only be available today.
As Stone and Rohr were picking through hundreds of rugs in a warehouse, they amassed a pile of rugs they were both drawn to. It turns out all of those rugs were created by a particular group of artisans, members of the Cultural Survival Tibetan Weaving Project. Founded in 1990, the project strives to create superior rugs that represent the varied sources of inspiration found in antique Tibetan carpets, while incorporating contemporary inspirations, too. They are made with hand-carded and hand-spun Tibetan wool; the more they are used, the more lustrous they become.
The colors come from vegetal dyes. The indigo (blue) comes from India, but everything else comes from Tibet: madder root (red), walnut husks (dark brown), flowers and roots (yellow).
“I’m drawn to the new design elements in the Tibetan carpets,” said Stone. “The traditional designs have been changed, with color palettes more soothing to Western designs.”
The cause is important to Stone, too. According to Cultural Survival literature, all proceeds from the sale of the carpets that don’t go toward continued carpet production are used for the education of Tibetan refugee children living in Nepal and India, for reforestation of damaged forest lands in Tibet and for other projects benefitting the Tibetan exile community worldwide.
“I will continue to carry Cultural Survival rugs in my store, but I’ve brought in 60 to 70 especially for this show,” said Stone. “They’ll go back to the Boston warehouse (so other retailers might sell them).”
The rugs will be on display through the beginning of January.
The Scarab is one of Eagle-Vail’s best kept secrets. Located off of Highway 6, as soon as you pass through the doors there’s nothing reminiscent of a strip mall. The walls are washed in a variety of colors, and the floors are filled with carpets. Antique African honey containers, Turkish pottery, and Indian prayer bells fill every nook and cranny. There’s a harem-meets-Eastern-tea-house feel to the store.
It’s Rohr’s desire to become a center for cultural exploration. As the silk road series continues, she hopes to bring in speakers. Anyone wishing to learn about Tibetan culture and issues – such as what it’s like to be a refugee – can stop by during the show. The idea behind the series is not simply bringing tangibal items into Vail, but also stories and ideas. We are the stories we tell.
For more information, call The Scarab at 949-1730. The show runs all day; call for specific hours.
Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.